Senior Justice Harry Lee Carrico died Sunday and the governor has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until his burial. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has an obituary for the judge, calling him “a central figure” in the battle over interracial marriage:
In 1966, Mr. Carrico wrote the Supreme Court decision upholding Virginia miscegenation laws, which prohibited marriage between people of different races. The court’s unanimous ruling in Loving vs. Virginia — the case of white man and African-American woman married in Washington, DC, but living in rural Caroline County — was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967.
An earlier post of mine, reflecting on the death of Mildred Loving, elicited some interesting comments, both in favor and against the man. (I can’t locate the press lease archives of the governor for 2008 to determine if a similar lowering of the flags was done in her honor.) As now-delegate Scott Surovell pointed out in his post at the time, “the last law in the United States prohibiting interracial marriage was repealed in 2000.”
But beyond Carrico is the bigger question of how we honor those who have served the public for a long time but whose legacy includes a stain. I know, for example, that a Norfolk community leader was denied the usual obituary in the local paper when he died because of such a stain.
So my question, dear reader, is this: how, exactly, do you think negative parts of a person’s history should be handled? Should it be ignored? Should it be a part of every writing, even though it may have occurred years ago?
Inquiring minds want to know.