It is hard to believe (or maybe not) that almost sixty years ago, miscegenation laws that banned interracial marriage existed in the United States.
The year was 1958. Mildred Jeter (of African and Cherokee descent) and Richard Loving (a White American), took a trip from Virginia to Washington, DC to get married, because back then, interracial marriage was illegal in their home state of Virginia.
Not too long after their wedding, they returned back home, happily married and in love, when they were awakened in the middle of the night and promptly arrested for ‘the crime of marrying the wrong type of person’.
“The night we were arrested,” Mildred Loving recounts in a 1967 ABC report, “I guess it was about 2am, and I saw this light you know, and I woke up and there was the policeman standing beside the bed and he told us to get up, that we were under arrest.”
They were declared guilty in court, and they opted to go into exile from the state of Virginia for twenty-five years. In fact, the judge presiding over the case made his thoughts clear: “Almighty God created the races. He did not intend for the races to mix.”
And this was all because two individuals in love chose to get married.
Inspired by the civil rights movement, the Lovings launched a legal case which was presented before the US Supreme Court. The verdict, a 9 – 0 vote against a ban on interracial marriage, brought an end to this type of discrimination. The case also helped remove the stigma from mixed race children, who were then considered bastards, and denied access to primary benefits. And while the 1967 US Supreme Court ruling was a huge victory that lives on today, all the couple wanted was to live a quiet life, while raising a family.
On the 40th anniversary of the ruling in Loving v. Virginia in 2007, Mildred Loving released a statement that proves the legacy of the Lovings still lives, and will continue to live on. Her closing words say it all.
“I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”
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