LARK & CAROLINE: A Forbidden Love
by Cara Pearson
“The worst feeling in the world is when you know that you both love each other but still you can’t be together.” This quote perfectly describes the relationship of Lark and Caroline.
©Vanilla Rose illustration used with permission
Their story begins just after the end of the civil war in the turbulent south. Lark was a mulatto (bi-racial) farm hand who began working for Caroline’s family – who were white. Against all odds, the mid twenty-something pair became mutually attracted to each other. Due to race relations, it was taboo to date someone of another race and most importantly, against the law to marry. So, it was very dangerous for a man of color and a white woman to be seen together as a couple in South Carolina. In order to camouflage their outings, Caroline would ride behind Lark in their buggy, so that it appeared that he was her servant, instead of appearing as a couple. Despite their love, Lark and Caroline were unable to legally marry.
In 1870, they had their first child – a boy named after Caroline’s brother, George, who
died during the war. When Caroline’s family discovered that she was pregnant with baby George, Lark’s life was threatened and he left the area for a short period of time, but eventually returned to Caroline. Two years later, they welcomed a daughter, named Annie. Caroline’s mother, Emeline, was emotionally distant from her two grandchildren, George and Annie. She requested that the children enter through her back door during their visits to her home. These type of issues with family and local residents plagued the relationship of the couple. Because of the continuing threats to his life (i.e. lynching), Lark escaped to North Carolina which forced the couple to permanently split up.
One hundred years after Lark and Caroline, the case of Loving vs. Virginia outlawed bans on interracial marriage. During the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” In addition he wrote, “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.” That decision changed how America defined love and marriage for all future generations.
The story of Lark and Caroline is not fiction, but the story of my great-great-great grandparents. They risked their lives for love, but unfortunately, the society norms prevailed. Regardless, I am thankful for their union – because of them, I am here.
©Cara Pearson used with permission
Cara Pearson began her career as a Claims Adjuster in Charlotte, NC. She later moved to Atlanta, GA where she honed skills as a Corporate Risk Manager.
After returning to Charlotte and much deliberations, Pearson incorporated her interests of media, technology and public affairs to form Cara Live! Currently, Pearson maintains a dual career in Washington, DC in the field of Risk Management and Cara Live!