” It was about 2 a.m. and I saw this light, you know. And I woke up, and it was the policeman standing beside the bed. And he told us to get up, that we was under arrest.” - Mildred Loving
” I knew we could win the argument, because I felt certain that the Supreme Court, the Warren Supreme Court, after Brown v. Board of Education and other civil rights cases, were ready to strike down anti-miscegenation laws.” - Bernard Cohen, Lovings lawyer
50 years ago, Mildred Loving and her husband were convicted and sentenced for being married to each other. As Mildred later put it: “Richard and I love one another, and we want the right to live together in Virginia and raise our children there.”
U.S. “miscegenation laws” date back to at least 1630, and were even declared constitutional by the 1883 Supreme Court. Up until the mid 1960s, Virginia and 19 other states still prohibited “interracial marriage.” Thanks to the persistence of Mildred Loving, and the help of an ACLU lawyer, Virginia’s law was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1967.
A widow living with her children for 21 years, Mildred Loving died at home last Friday in Milford, Virginia, at the age of 68. In this video report, v Mildred’s ACLU lawyer tells her story. The video includes footage of Mildred herself.
The Lovings’ story is an often-overlooked civil rights victory and can act as a springboard for a discussion about the legacy of slavery and racism. Note that in 1969, 2 years after the court decision, Virginia adopted the official slogan “Virginia is for Lovers,” whose great popularity still attracts millions of visitors to Virginia. The 2005 book Virginia Wasn’t Always for Lovers describes the details of Mildred and Richard’s odyssey.
Below are web links to material related to this story
Conversation: Mildred Loving, Key Figure in Civil Rights Era, Dies
Associated Press: Mildred Loving, matriarch of interracial marriage, dies
NY Times: Mildred Loving, Who Battled Ban on Mixed-Race Marriage, Dies at 68
About.com: Race Relations: Interracial Couples