Johnny Money’s first spouse was black and her great-great grandmother a slave, it has emerged – surprising the Money household, and offering a dramatic posthumous twist to her outstanding story.

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Vivian Liberto died in 2005 on the age of 71, believing she was of blended Italian and German ancestry.

The daughter of a father of Sicilian heritage and a mom of German and Irish descent, she was married to Money from 1954-66.

In 1965, when Money was arrested on drug offenses, Liberto appeared in court docket in El Paso to assist him and {a photograph} appeared to point out her as black – enraging white supremacists on the time.

Johnny Cash and his first wife Vivian Liberto married in 1954 and are pictured in 1957

Johnny Money and his first spouse Vivian Liberto married in 1954 and are pictured in 1957

Combined-race marriages have been unlawful till 1967, and it could be thought of anathema, significantly within the South, for years to return.

Money and Liberto sued newspapers who referred to her as black, and produced proof of her white upbringing and schooling.

But trendy methods have lastly confirmed that Liberto was certainly African American, and her great-great grandmother was born a slave.

In a February episode of the PBS present, Discovering Your Roots, host and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. introduced Rosanne Money together with her DNA outcomes and household family tree.

Rosanne Money, 65, the eldest of 4 daughters born to Johnny and Vivian, was left shocked by the outcomes.

Gates advised her that Vivian’s maternal great-great grandmother was an enslaved black lady, Sarah Shields, whose white father in 1848 had granted her and her eight siblings their freedom, and their ‘whiteness’.

Shields illegally married a white man, and all of her kids and their descendants have been listed as white.

‘That is seemingly why to this present day, a lot of her direct descendants do not know that they’ve any African American ancestry,’ Gates mentioned.

Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto, was told in February of her origins

Rosanne Money, daughter of Johnny Money and Vivian Liberto, was advised in February of her origins

Cash and Liberto are pictured with their two eldest daughters, Rosanne and Kathy, in 1957

Money and Liberto are pictured with their two eldest daughters, Rosanne and Kathy, in 1957

Johnny Cash and his second wife, June Carter, at the Country Music Awards in 1991

Johnny Money and his second spouse, June Carter, on the Nation Music Awards in 1991

Gates requested Rosanne the way it felt to be taught that her mom’s ancestors had been enslaved, inflicting her to cry.

‘It feels heartbreaking,’ she mentioned.

Johnny Money and Vivian Liberto met in the summertime of 1951 at a curler rink in San Antonio, the place she had been raised in a strict Catholic household.

On the time she was 17, and he was 19.

Her father Thomas Liberto, proprietor of an insurance coverage company and an novice musician, was from Sicily and her mom, Irene Robinson Liberto, a homemaker, was of Irish-German descent. She was unaware of her ancestor’s story.

Money, who got here from a struggling Arkansas farm household, was in his Air Drive uniform, The Washington Post reported.

In keeping with accounts from the time, Money’s buddies dared him to speak to her and he probably ran into her on the rink to get the dialog going.

The Cash family are seen in photographs from the 1960s showing Liberto and the children

The Money household are seen in images from the Nineteen Sixties displaying Liberto and the kids

Money left for Germany a number of weeks later and the pair wrote to one another steadily – generally greater than as soon as a day.

By 1954 the pair have been married, tying the knot at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church in San Antonio, one month after his discharge from the Air Drive.

Liberto would later publish a number of the letters in her memoir I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny Money, named for the 1956 tune her husband wrote about their marriage.

At first the wedding was glad, however as Money’s profession blossomed he sunk additional into medicine, and commenced an affair with June Carter.

Liberto traveled to El Paso in 1965 for Money’s arraignment, and sparked the furor over her race.

Because the photograph of Money and Liberto was printed, white supremacists started attacking the pair.

An Alabama newspaper, The Thunderbolt, reported: ‘Arrest Exposes Johnny Money’s Negro Spouse.’

The paper warned: ‘Cash from the sale of (Money’s) information goes to scum like Johnny Money to maintain them equipped with dope and negro ladies.’

The group, which was related to the Ku Klux Klan, then launched a boycott of Money’s music, that lasted over a 12 months.

The white supremacist media marketing campaign in opposition to Money devastated Liberto, and led to the tip of their marriage.

Johnny Cash and his second wife June Carter, who he married in 1968

Johnny Money and his second spouse June Carter, who he married in 1968

‘The stress was nearly insufferable. I wished to die,’ she wrote in her memoir, The Submit reported.

‘And it did not assist that Johnny issued an announcement to the KKK informing them I wasn’t black.’

She didn’t assume the marketing campaign ought to have been dignified with a response.

Within the 2020 documentary ‘My Darling Vivian’ about Money and his first spouse, their daughters advised of the trauma.

‘She was scared to loss of life that the KKK was coming for her and that Dad can be on the street,’ Kathy Money mentioned within the documentary.

‘She had no thought what to do. Everybody knew the place we lived.’

Liberto would preserve vigil at night time, smoking cigarettes and consuming espresso with a gun by her facet.

The pair divorced in 1966.

Two years later, Money married Carter and Vivian married police officer Dick Distin and vanished from public sight.

After her former husband died at 71 in 2003, just some months after June Carter, Liberto advised her daughters: ‘Regardless that I did not see him or speak to him fairly often, simply understanding he was on the planet was sufficient.

‘However now that he isn’t, I do not know if I wish to be right here.’

Liberto died two years later.



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