Spotlight on Richard and Mildred Loving
In 1958, when Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter wanted to marry, 16 states including their home state of Virginia considered interracial marriage illegal. Loving and Jeter were forced to travel to Washington D.C. to become legally married, but were promptly thrown in jail upon returning home. The couple plead guilty and were sentenced to jail. The original sentence of 25 years was reduced under the condition that they not return to the state together for 25 years. Separated from their families and barred from the state, the Lovings sought legal help from attorney Bernard Cohen. Eventually the case reached the Supreme Court, and on June 12, 1967 the Supreme Court declared the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 (which banned interracial marriage) unconstitutional along with all other interracial marriage bans in the United States.
The United States has always been a melting pot of mixing; many slaves had children for their owners (whether “consensual” or not) creating the myriad of skin tones and features that populate the American population today. Until 1967, the idea that the races were separate and should remain separate was being staunchly upheld in the South even though a great deal of mixing had already occurred and elsewhere in the States interracial marriage had been happening for years (re: Fredrick Douglass and Helen Pitts, 1884). The victory of Loving v. Virginia was one of many steps needed to promote the ideas of equality and uphold the premise of freedom.
However, even now, 47 years later people still have a problem with the idea of two people loving each other for who they are regardless of their skin color. In 2013, a simple Cheerio's commercial sparked a frenzy of outrage over the interracial family featured, proving that America is not post-racial and still has a ways to go.
Loving You With All My Heart
Love is an infinite, colorless void
Wrapped deep in the human soul--
It is patient and kind,
committed and selfless
An act of devotion to another half of one's self
Pure and beautiful,
A gift, given freely
To those patient and open to its charm
Unapologetic and unconditional
always trusting, always protecting
An anchor in the worst storm
It brings out the best in us,
and lifts us high.
The ability to look beyond one's self
Worry, care, reject survival instincts
To put another life before your own
And be fulfilled by its magic.
A magic that cannot be explained
And so we fight for it
all our lives, hoping
Wishing and praying
Like starstruck teens on shooting stars,
For that rare occurrence
For the pop and bang
of colorful fireworks
The missing piece that completes us
Makes us stronger,
References & Footnotes
- Paul Holtum. "10 Fascinating Interracial Marriages in History". Listverse. January 25, 2011
- Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson. "‘The Loving Story’ Takes Intimate Look At Virginia’s First Legal Interracial Marriage (PHOTOS)". Huffington Post. January 18, 2012
- Scott Williams. "Timeline of Fredrick Douglass". African American History of Western New York; visited February 2014
- Braden Goyette. "Cheerios Commercial Featuring Mixed Race Family Gets Racist Backlash (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. May 31, 2013
- Dorr, Gregory Michael. " Racial Integrity Laws of the 1920s". Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 30 May. 2014.
- Bump, Phillip. "What overturning interracial marriage bans might tell us about what happens next with gay marriage" The Washington Post 6 Oct. 2014.
- "Where Were Interracial Couples Illegal?" LovingDay.org. 2012.
- "Loving v. Virginia: The Case Over Interracial Marriage". American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); visited March 2015
- Sally Jacobs. “50 Years Later, The Couple At The Heart of Loving v. Virginia Still Stirs Controversy”. GBH. June 11 2017
- Arica L. Coleman. “What You Didn’t Know About Loving v. Virginia”. Time. June 10, 2016
- Yesha Callahan. “Mildred Loving's Grandson Says She Wasn't Black”. The Root. November 4, 2016
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