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June 16, 2017

At the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, an author looks back on race in America

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  • In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriage. The case was Loving v. Virginia. Richard and Mildred Loving were briefly thrown in jail for marrying each other in Virginia in the 1950s.
  • Laws banning interracial marriages in Virginia date back to colonial chattel slavery, when the capitalist class wrote into the slave codes laws against interracial sex and marriage.
  • Georgetown University law Professor Sheryll Cashin wrote a book called “Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy,” discussing the history of how relationships between people of different races have challenged racist ideology.
  • Cashin said that since the founding of America, two opposing ideas have been at play: Jeffersonian ideologies of egalitarianism and universal human dignity, and a regime of white supremacy. Despite his professed egalitarian ideas, Jefferson himself was a slave owner.
  • Cashin believes that cultural dexterity in the United States is growing. Cultural dexterity is the ability to understand and appreciate differences rather than expecting others to assimilate to your culture.

  1. Essential question: How much progress has the United States made in race relations?
  2. What other court cases, besides Loving v. Virginia, were instrumental in the civil rights movement? What did they do?
  3. What actions can you take to be more culturally dexterous?
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