youtube.com/WJZ
Source: youtube.com/WJZ

Mixed-Race Couple's Baby Is Taken Away to Separate Them, Desperate Parents Refuse to Give Up on Love

Dayna Remus
Apr 07, 2022
11:30 A.M.
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There is only horror in racism. It tries to dehumanize those with inherent value. It attempts to hold down infinite potential. It hopes to stand in the way of love. But, one couple was ferocious towards attempts to discriminate against them. 

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Previously strangers to each other, Shirley and John Billy grew up in the early 1900s on the east side of Baltimore. 

They said that while living there, neither of them came across any racism. But, the two were still young and naive.

[Left] Shirley and John Billy in their younger years; [Right] Shirley and John Billy in their older years. │Source: youtube.com/WJZ

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As John said

"We all came up together, played together, and, for my part, I sang in White nightclubs. Neither one of us had ever experienced anything like what happened to us after we were married."

PROGRESSIVE ROMANCE 

This transition from innocence to the sad reality of discrimination began with nothing but a harmless dance between the two. 

It was September 1954, and the "I am an American" parade was in full swing. John Billy's doo-wop group that he sang in, the "Honey Boys," was entertaining the crowd that night. 

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A young Shirley Billy. │Source: youtube.com/WJZ

But someone caught the young artist's eye as he asked Shirley Howard to dance with him to "In The Still Of The Night." From there, a beautiful romance was born. 

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BIGOTRY AT ITS FINEST

Shirley fell pregnant and gave birth to her and John's first baby in 1957. At the time, her parents not only looked down upon this, but it was illegal to have a mixed-race child. 

You May Also Like: 'The Priest Refused to Marry Us': Mixed-Race Couple Share Their 73-Year Story of Love and Prejudice

The Honey Boys doo wop group. │Source: youtube.com/WJZ

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READY TO FIGHT

The full extent of the law came down on the new parents. One day the baby was born, and the next, it was taken away. Shirley was also thrown in jail for her apparent "transgression." As John recalled

"She said she cried all night long once she was in that cell, you know." 

But, these two fiercely loving parents were not about to give up on their little one. The case was eventually taken to court. 

Shirley and John Billy’s firstborn child as a baby. │Source: youtube.com/WJZ

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THE VERDICT

Miraculously, the judge ruled that the ancient law, which spanned just over two centuries old, was unconstitutional.

The parents were also just able to get their baby back before an adoption, which was set up after the state took their firstborn, was settled. 

Sadly it wasn't over. For one, Shirley and John had to face issues regarding the legalities surrounding interracial marriages. The government even drafted John to try and prevent their union

John Billy with his firstborn child. │Source: youtube.com/WJZ

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MOVING THROUGH THE TRENCHES

Also, Shirley got fired on more than one occasion for their relationship and mixed-race child. This couple continued to face hurdles, but they managed to endure. As John stated

"We survived it all. It's sort of a miracle."

Throughout the years, John's musical career prospered, and the two had three children in total -- a life well-lived despite earnest attempts to break up their love. 

An elderly Shirley Billy. │Source: youtube.com/WJZ

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LOVE CONQUERS ALL

But, most of all, they can live in peace because discrimination, although arguably not eradicated, has become significantly less common in the law and everyday life. As John expressed:

"You can't find more love than what we had."

Following all their struggles, the two were finally able to grow calmy together into a more mature love. As reported in 2019, John was looking after his beloved after she had a stroke.

An elderly John Billy. │Source: youtube.com/WJZ

The singer proudly said that he even learned how to cook so he could help her -- an albeit old school and yet perfect way to show how much John truly loves the woman that he spent his whole life fighting beside. 

You May Also Like: Man Finds Birth Mom, Discovers She Gave Him up for Adoption Because He's Mixed-Race

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