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September 20, 2018

Remember Kizzy from 'Roots'? She was slammed over her interracial marriage

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At 74 Leslie Uggams is still going strong. She began her career as a child in the 50s and is mostly known for portraying Kizzy Reynolds in the television miniseries "Roots." During the time when she got married, interracial relationships were not accepted. Since Uggams got married to a white man, she was faced with some criticism. 

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Her career did not stop with "Roots." Uggams recently appeared along Ryan Renolds in the 2016 ‘Deadpool’ movie and reprised her role in ‘Deadpool 2’ as Blind Al.

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She also has a recurring role on the hit Fox series ‘Empire’ as the bipolar mother of Lucious Lyon.

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The actress is no stranger to breaking down barriers.

She joined one of the first African-American TV shows, ‘Beulah’, when she was only 6, sang at NYC’s Apollo Theater at age 9, and married a white man at a time when interracial marriages were still illegal in parts of the U.S.

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While in recent "Deadpool" movie Leslie played a blind roommate of the main hero, in real life she is happily married to Grahame Pratt for over 53 years. They met when she sang in Sydney in 1964. 

“"When I went there for the first time, the people were just so warm and so friendly." That’s why I fell in love with the country and fell in love with my husband.”"

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Though they hit it off right away, the racial tensions in America made them seriously consider their relationship.

Apart from the protesters and police clashing, buildings on fire, and a rising death toll, Uggams revealed that she also felt the backlash from her family.

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After showing a color picture of Graham to her aunt, her aunt said, “Well, he’s all right, I suppose, but only for dates, huh, honey? When you’re thinking of settling down for keeps you’ll make sure you marry a nice black fella, won’t you?”

After their marriage, Uggams states that she received a lot of hate mail from fans.

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One such letter from Detroit was addressed to Grahame, and stated that he was going to have ‘polka-dot’ children.

The couple decided to reside in New York, in part to avoid the country’s racial segregation laws of that time.

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However, outside of New York, the discriminatory experiences did not stop.

When the couple went down South for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, one of the organizers knocked on their bedroom door and asked, “You two are staying in the same room together?”

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The couple will be celebrating their 54th anniversary this year.

When asked what has made them work all these years, this is what Leslie had to say:

“He does all the business part of my career, so it works great for us because we love being together. Some people don’t, they get married and they don’t want to be together, but we love being together. It's a lot of fun. We’ve been on the journey together.”

Do you think interracial couples have truly been accepted by society as a whole? Tell us in the comments below!

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