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Personal Reflections on Loving vs. Virginia
How one couple's courage made a way for countless interracial marriages, including mine.
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Have you heard of Loving Day?
The first time I heard the phrase, I assumed it had something to do with another Hallmark holiday like Valentine’s Day or Sweetest Day. I know I’m not much of a romantic but seriously, how many more holidays do we need as an excuse to buy outrageously priced cards, flowers, and gifts? Come to find out, I was wrong.
Loving Day, I learned, is much more significant than any Hallmark holiday. I discovered it personally impacted my own life.
What is Loving Day?
Loving Day is recognized on June 12, the day that the United States Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage.
I first learned about it just a couple of years ago. I was scrolling on Instagram and saw a t-shirt celebrating Loving vs. Virginia. As I read, I discovered the significance of this landmark decision and was shocked that I’d never learned about it in school—Brown vs. The Board of Education. Check. Roe vs. Wade. Check. So why not Loving vs. Virginia?
I still don’t have an answer to that question.
What the case is about?
Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving grew up as family friends and neighbors in a less segregated Caroline County, Virginia. The pair fell in love and were married in Washington DC on June 2, 1958. A few weeks later, the newlyweds were awakened at 2 am with by the sheriff standing over their bed. He’d entered their home on a tip that Mildred, a Black / Native American woman, and Richard, an Irish / English man, were living together. Their interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia. In fact, it was illegal in 16 states!
The Lovings were arrested under Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act. They plead guilty and were given the option of serving a year in prison or being exiled from Virginia, including their home & family, for the next 25 years. They chose the latter, moving to Washington DC.
But it would prove too difficult to stay away from their loved ones, and the two along with their children would sneak back to Virginia periodically, knowing if they were caught, they’d be imprisoned again.
After several years, amid the civil rights movement, Mildred wrote to then-Attorney General John F Kennedy for help. He assigned two young attorneys to the case who had connections with the ACLU. Although the case was lost in both the local and state courts, their attorneys didn’t give up, filing an appeal with the US Supreme Court.
Tensions ran high in and out of the courtroom. It was truly a David and Goliath moment in history. Neither of the Lovings appeared in court, but Richard told their attorneys, “Tell the court I love my wife and it is just not fair that I cannot live with her in Virginia.”
Loving vs. Virginia was overturned in the landmark unanimous 9-0 decision on June 12, 1967. Siting the 14th Amendment, the ruling reads,
“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.”
Majority Chief Justice Earl Warren
It would still take until 2000 for the final holdout state, Alabama, to recognize this federal law…the same year I was married!
In 2000, when my husband and I were married, I didn’t see us as an interracial couple because I didn’t want to acknowledge my own mixed heritage. But over the years I’ve embraced my ethnic and racial background. I’m thankful for our marriage. My husband is the man I didn’t even know I needed (but God did). He is not only my love but my biggest cheerleader and supporter. He loves me at my best and my worst, as I do him. We’re not perfect, but we are a pretty great team.
Loving vs. Virginia was ratified just two years before my husband was born. This isn’t ancient history. This is current, in our lifetime, history! And because of Mildred and Richard’s courage, we were legally able to be married and raise our family.
But even before my marriage, was a relationship between a white woman and an Afro-Puerto Rican man that resulted in a little Mixed girl.
Loving Day…will forever have a special place in my heart.
Has Loving vs. Virginia personally impacted your family?
Is this the first time you’ve heard about the history of interracial marriage?
Maybe you’re in a monoracial marriage so you never gave laws like this a second thought?
I’d love to hear from you. If this post spoke to you, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below
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A Little Something Extra…
Each week, I like to share a little something extra, something I’ve found fun or helpful. It might be a post, book, podcast, tv show, movie, song, Bible verse…or something else I think you’ll enjoy.
Mosaic the Label
This week, I’m featuring one of my favorite small businesses, Mosaic the Label. They’re an online company that celebrates Mixed, biracial, and interracial identity. In fact, I first learned about Loving vs. Virginia when I saw their t-shirt. I immediately knew I needed one!
I love the quality of their clothes and the wide variety of accessories like stationery, jewelry, and pins. One of my favorite items is their decal stickers. They’re so witty and fun! Plus they make a great conversation starter on my laptop or water bottle.
Check out their online store. And be sure to follow them on Instagram to see when new merch drops.
And if you’re a social media fan, don’t forget to follow Mixed.ology on Instagram for daily posts, videos, and more!
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