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Exchange Exemplar: a family story of hiding a mixed-race marriage

A family portrait. E. Dolores Johnson is on the far right.
Chicago Review Press
A family portrait. E. Dolores Johnson is on the far right.

Dolores Johnson's white mother and black father did not say anything about her mother's family growing up. This was in a time when interracial marriage was not only frowned upon, it was illegal in some states, including the one where her parents first got together.

It was only when she reached adulthood that Dolores Johnson pressed her mother for the full story, the one Johnson tells in the book Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love. That IS what Johnson's mother told her to tell her family: "say I'm dead."

We hear what really happened as Dolores began climbing her family tree.

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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily talk show focused on news and interests across our region of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.