Loving Day is by far a more powerful manifestation of love than St. Valentine’s as it represents a real struggle of mythological magnitude. Loving Day is modern Romeo and Juliette’s love story that ends with the couple winning their right to be together and gifting this right to many generations of lovers to come.
Only 50 years ago loving a person of a different race was illegal in most of the United States. One couple fought for their right to live as husband and wife and made it easier for us today to love whoever we want after a landmark civil rights decision of the United States Supreme Court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage on June 12, 1967.
The case was brought by Mildred Loving, a non-white woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated the state’s anti-miscegenation statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited marriage between people classified as “white” and people classified as “colored”. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision wiped away our country’s last remaining segregation laws.
The Lovings didn’t look for the limelight and became civil rights heroes by accident rather than intention.They first met when Mildred was 11 and Richard was 17. At 18 she became pregnant with their first child and they decided to legalize their union.
The story began on July 11, 1958, when police entered the Lovings’ bedroom in the middle of the night and arrested them for violating the state’s law banning interracial cohabitation and marriage. The couple lawfully wed in Washington, D.C. five weeks earlier but their union was not recognized in Virginia. They initially pleaded guilty to violating the state’s Racial Integrity Act, with a local judge reportedly telling them that if God had meant whites and blacks to mix, he would not have placed them on different continents. The judge then allowed them to flee the state of Virginia instead of spending a year in prison. Frightened and unaware of their right of appeal, the Lovings lived five years of exile in Washington.
In 1967, inspired by the civil rights movement, Mildred wrote to U.S. Attorney General Robert. F. Kennedy for help. Kennedy referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union, which agreed to take the case. The Lovings decided to move back to Virginia and fight. At that moment there were approximately a half million mixed marriages in the U.S. and the Lovings realized their case will affect many lives.
“[We] are not doing it just because somebody had to do it and we wanted to be the ones,” says Richard. “We are doing it for us — because we want to live here.”
Loving Day is the reminder that love conquers all. It should serve as an inspiration to all of us to fight for our love.