This was TV’s first ever interracial kiss

Forty-eight years ago Richard and Mildred Loving were listed as plaintiffs in the landmark Loving v. Virginia case, which in a unanimous 9-0 decision saw the Supreme Court officially legalize interracial marriage in the United States. Just one year later, in 1968, sci-fi program Star Trek made history when it depicted what became known as the first interracial kiss shown on U.S. television. Despite it being a forced kiss — evil aliens were involved — that moment became a source of pride in American entertainment history.

But a recent discovery by the British Film Institute revealed that the world’s first televised interracial kiss most likely occurred six full years before Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura locked lips. In preparing for a new exhibit on romance and race, the BFI unearthed footage of the 1962 on-screen version of You In Your Small Corner, a British-Jamaican play featuring a mixed race couple — and their first hot-and-heavy makeout sesh. (Or “full-on snog” for our British readers.)  

As The Guardian points out, interracial kisses did occur well before 1962: In the 1950s, there was Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy along with plenty of other couplings between white actors and fair-skinned people of color. But intimacy between white and visibly black actors remained rare and incredibly taboo, becoming a last frontier of sorts at the height of the 1960s Civil Rights movement. You In Your Small Corner set a new precedent, even if it took 53 years to realize that.

“[N]obody had really put the connection together that this looks like the first surviving example of a mixed race relationship on television,” BFI creative director Heather Stewart told The Guardian. “Fifty years on, diverse on-screen representation is still an urgent issue and we must continue as an industry to effect much-needed change.”

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[Images via YouTube]