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The story of June Cross is a reminder of how far America has come in terms of interracial relationships

By Nina Steele 

Documentary filmmaker June Cross , who has no children, was born to a white mother and a black father. The year was 1954. Fearing being ostracised by her community if they ever found out she had a child by a black man, June was made to lie about her real identity from an early age. Only a handful of people knew she was her mother’s daughter. To everyone else, she was an adopted child. At the age of 4, she was sent to live with her mother’s friends, a black couple, who happened to be childless.

June mother’s greatest fear was that should her community find out she had a black child, she would not only be rejected, she would never be able to remarry. And so, June was made aware from an early age of the kind of backlash awaited her mother, if she didn’t keep her side of the story.

Her mother did remarry when June was 7 years old, to the actor and comedian Larry Storch. And even though her new husband did accept the fact that he had a black stepdaughter, June mother’s fears of being found out became even more heightened. Now she worried that her husband’s career would be cut short, should her secret be revealed. That deep fear of losing the social status she had worked so hard to achieve, followed her throughout her life.
June Cross Secret Daughter
Sadly, June’s relationship with her ‘other mother’, the woman who raised her, deteriorated by the time she passed away in 1981. June puts this down to the fact that Aunt Peggy as she was known, felt let down by June, because she had hoped by then that June would be married with children.

In 1996, June made a documentary about her life, entitled ‘Secret Daughter’, which is also the title of her autobiography. She fought hard to convince her mother to take part. After months of saying no, her mother eventually agreed. By then her mother had made a good life for herself as the wife of a fairly successful actor. That long held fear she had of losing everything should people find out about her daughter was still as strong as it once was. We learnt in the documentary that the people she feared the most were her conservative friends. It didn’t matter that June was by then, a successful journalist.

Norma Storch, June’s mother, passed away in 2003, aged 81. June who also teaches journalism at Columbia University, lives in New York City with her partner, the Jazz drummer Mike Clark.

June Cross’s autobiography ‘Secret daughter’ is on sale on Amazon.

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