Jefferson M Fish Ph.D.

Looking in the Cultural Mirror

Loving Day

Loving Day commemorates the end of anti-miscegenation laws.

Posted Jun 08, 2011

Richard Perry Loving (felicitously named) married Mildred Delores Jeter in June of 1958. Since he was white and she was black, and interracial marriage was prohibited in their home state of Virginia, they traveled to Washington, DC to get married. A few weeks after returning home, they were arrested, pled guilty, and were sentenced to one year in jail. The sentence was suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state. Appeals within Virginia (while the couple lived elsewhere) upheld their conviction as non-discriminatory because both the white and black spouses were convicted and sentenced equally. Nine years later, the unanimous Loving decision finally put an end to anti-miscegenation laws, and allowed the Lovings to return to their home state.

In 2007, a year before she died, Mildred Loving prepared a statement in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision. It concluded:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.

The Loving Day website lists events around the country, beginning on June 10, and contains much relevant background information.

Image Source:
Mixed-couple by David Ball

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