Learn about Loving Day
Loving Day commemorates a date in history when the Supreme Court of America ruled to disband all anti-miscegenation laws in 1967 (laws that made mixed race marriages illegal).
Loving vs Virginia was an important Supreme Court case, but it was also the story of a real couple’s love. Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving grew up in Virginia, USA. They fell in love and decided to get married.
Regrettably, getting married was not that simple in 1958. Mildred was a young black woman and Richard a respectable white male. The law forbade people of different races to marry each other, and this was true in many states – including Virginia. However interracial marriages were legal in Washington, DC at that time. Therefore, they decided to go to DC, get married, and return to Virginia to begin their life together.
This, however, was only a short term solution. The law in Virginia not only forbade interracial marriage ceremonies, but it also forbade interracial couples from getting married elsewhere and then returning to their home state. Not long after their return to Virginia, the newly-married Loving couple were awakened by the police and taken to jail for the crime of having an interracial marriage.
Richard and Mildred went to trial and the judge found them guilty and sentenced them to jail term three years. However, the Judge said that he would suspend the sentence if they agreed to leave Virginia for twenty five years. Given the choice between imprisonment and banishment, they chose banishment, and the Lovings moved to Washington, DC to live out their married life.
Though the Lovings were able to live together legally in Washington, they did not have an easy time; they faced discrimination everywhere. They were facing the emotional hardship with the separation from their families. Life was both difficult and horrible for the Lovings. In extreme anxiety, Mildred sent a letter to Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States, explaining their life and difficulties that they were facing as a interracial couple in Washington.
Mildred’s letter was sent on to the offices of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York City. They took interest in the case and helped the Lovings find an attorney for their case. Two lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, also felt that not only the Lovings, but all Americans were entitled to be married and to live in the state of their choice. Due to the difficulties that they faced they agreed to take on the case for free.
After a long and hard legal battle the Lovings’ case eventually appeared before the United States Supreme Court. The Court decided after hearing the hardship that the Lovings faced and hearing about the many people that were unable to get married the Court voted unanimously in their favor.
Ultimately, after nine years of struggle, the Lovings won the right to live together as husband and wife in their home state of Virginia. In the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren, “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides within the individual and cannot be infringed on by the State.”
Not only did the case win them their freedom to love each other, but it also granted the same freedom to every interracial couple in every state in the USA. At the time of the Loving case, sixteen states had laws prohibiting interracial couples to marry.
Loving v. Virginia (1967) made it illegal for any state to enforce those laws which stop interracial marriage. These laws did not only apply to black and white people; in many states restriction on relationships with Asians, Native Americans, Indians, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups were abolished.