Audio: The Day My Parents, and 4000 Other Strangers, Married Across Racial Lines

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The Edwards Family

Rodney and Susan Edwards on their wedding day at Madison Square Garden in 1982.

It’s been 50 years since Mildred and Richard Lovings’ fight for interracial marriage took them all the way to Supreme Court. To commemorate their experience, I wanted to talk to my parents, Rodney and Susan Edwards, who are also an interracial couple. Rodney is Black and Susan is White.

My parents were married in 1982, 15 years after the Supreme Court Case Virginia v. Loving. But although they are an interracial couple like the Lovings, they were joined under very different circumstances. The late Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who headed up the controversial Unification Church, matched them in 1982 along with 2,075 other couples in a ceremony at Madison Square Garden. Some call the Unification Church a cult – and it is controversial largely because of the mass weddings it performed in the 70s and 80s. But what many people don’t know is that part of the rationale for these weddings was to create interracial families.

My parents are still together 35 years later. But the number of Unification Church members has dwindled to a trickle – especially since the founder died in 2012. Still, a church representative estimated that 70 percent of the couples that were matched in Madison Square Garden with my parents are still together – even if they may not be in the church. The tri-state area has the highest concentration of UC members in the country: Out of the 16,000 American members, 2,000 live in New York State alone, and of that, 600 are in the city.
 

7 thoughts on “Audio: The Day My Parents, and 4000 Other Strangers, Married Across Racial Lines

  1. Except that the Moon family itself remained purely Korean. The members lived in poverty while Moon surrounded himself and his family with wealth an luxury. The hypocrisy ran deep.

    • Not correct.

      Several daughters are married to western guys, and more recently those were solemnized in a formal church ceremony.
      More of the grandkids have non Korean spouses, non Asian also.

  2. I was in that wedding on July 1, 1982. I am no longer with the woman I “married” at the ceremony. (In our case, there was no legal component to the wedding.) We were both white. I agree with William Poe. I do not think that Sun Myung Moon had any real commitment to mixed racial marriages, because he did not follow that practice with his own children. Instead, it was all lip service. Moon matched people more or less on impulse. He looked at me on December 31, 1980, looked around the room, and pointed at an English woman. At the time, I thought he was being led by God. I now believe he chose people more or less at random. A few people were lucky enough to get a good match. Most of the others, if they are still in the church, are sticking it out because “Father” (Moon) told them to. Fortunately, I quit the church and later found a suitable life partner on my own.

    • As I learned the hard way, many white supremacist groups hate Rev. Moon, and called him a “champion of racial mongrelization.”
      Why? By any measure, we brought together a more diverse, international and interracial, group of couples than any before in world history.
      Most of whom, far more than that national average for marriages, are still together, and enjoying grandchildren.

  3. My husband and I also participated in the Madison Square Garden Mass wedding. We are still together and it has not been easy. Rev. Moon “matched” couples from “enemy” nations, races and religions. My husband is Austrian/German and I am American/British. Our nations fought against each other in 2 wars in the 20th century. He was raised Roman Catholic and I, Protestant (Baptist/Presbyterian/Mormon) There have been 500 years of war between these (Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.) The ensuing years have, for the most part, not been good for either side.
    I encountered many difficulties with my husband’s family and he with mine, based on our nationalities (My father fought in WWII and I lost 2 uncles to the Germans (one in WWI and one in WWII. My mother in law was nearly raped by an American soldier and she was tremendously upset that the American’s bombed the churches in Germany and Austria.) However, my parents gave their blessing to our marriage and I and our (American) daughter have become very close to the Austrian/German side of the family.
    Our natures and upbringings were very different, but they seemed to compliment each other in that what one needed the other one had.
    I’d also like to respectfully disagree that the matches were made randomly. There were many “coincidences” with our matching. The one which amazed me the most was that the first place he went when arriving in America to do missionary work, was the small city in Oklahoma where I was born, while the person who brought him into the church came to the city where I grew up in Utah. (all of this occurred 6 years before we ever met.)
    As I said, things haven’t been easy – for either of us, but after years, we are doing better and better. Our relationship is more harmonious than ever and we are still active in our local church. We know tens of couples who were “Blessed” at the same time with a myriad of stores similar to ours – only the details are different. We weren’t just “lucky”, it was clearly a case of God working in our lives.

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