L is for Loving Day

As late as 1987, a full 20 years after the Loving v. Virginia ruling, only 48% of Americans said it was acceptable for blacks and whites to date. That number has since jumped to 83%, according to the Pew Research Center.

I can’t believe I missed it. OK, until I read about it in TIME magazine, I’d never even heard of it, though it’s been going on for a half dozen years. There’s a group that has called for Loving Day Celebrations around June 12th each year “to fight racial prejudice through education and to build multicultural community.”

The celebration is named for Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, who had the audacity to fall in love with each other. Unable to get married legally in their native Virginia – he was white, she was black – they got hitched in Washington, DC and “established their marital abode in Caroline County”, Virginia.

Ultimately, on “January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty to the charge” stemming from their interracial marriage, “and were sentenced to one year in jail; however, the trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years. He stated in an opinion that:

“‘Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.'”

The Lovings moved to DC, and in 1963, took legal action against the state of Virginia. Meanwhile, Mildred Loving also wrote to US Attorney General Robert Kennedy for assistance, and he referred the Lovings to an ACLU lawyer who took the case pro bono. The Lovings lost at every court, with the primary reasoning being that “because its miscegenation statutes punish equally both the white and the Negro participants in an interracial marriage, these statutes, despite their reliance on racial classifications, do not constitute an invidious discrimination based upon race.”

However, their case made it to the US Supreme Court, and on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled, in Loving v. Virginia, that the anti-miscegenation laws of Virginia and 15 other states were unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for the Court, concluded:

These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

These convictions must be reversed.

Interestingly, the polling I’ve seen suggests that at the time of the ruling, less than 30% of Americans favored mixed marriages. From TIME:

As late as 1987, a full 20 years after the case, only 48% of Americans said it was acceptable for blacks and whites to date. That number has since jumped to 83%, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2010, the center estimated that 1 in 7 new marriages in the U.S. is now an interracial coupling. In 1961, the year Obama’s parents married, only 1 in 1,000 marriages included a black person and a white person; today, it’s 1 in 60.

In statistics for 2008, 14.6 percent of all marriages were between spouses of different races.

In 2010, there is a Republican running for Congress, Jim Russell, who wrote in 2001, “In the midst of this onslaught against our youth, parents need to be reminded that they have a natural obligation, as essential as providing food and shelter, to instill in their children an acceptance of appropriate ethnic boundaries for socialization and for marriage.” I wrote about him extensively here, and he is hardly alone. So I guess the Loving Day folks still have much work to do.
Pete Seeger – All Mixed Up

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

46 thoughts on “L is for Loving Day”

  1. Thought provoking as ever Roger. I had to look up the word “miscegination” as it was a new one on me. Inter-racial marriages might be frowned upon within a community – people are people with prejudices that can cut both ways – but I find it as something that might be forbidden with the weight of the law behind it.

    The Lovings are to be applauded although I suspect it must have been a depressing struggle for them.

  2. I haven’t heard of the Loving Day Celebration. What a great post for L. I will never understand how some people cling so hard to hate and stupidity.

  3. Great post Roger, – it is heartening to see how the marriages between people of different races raises no eyebrows and has been totally accepted, – at least in this community and amongst all my friends and acquaintances.

  4. Roger, This post is not only informative, but relays the most important message, “Love is all you need.” Enjoyed the Pete Seeger song very much – Mimi Farina was a treasure.

  5. ““‘Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red…”
    This is NONSENSE. We all came from Africa! Thanks to migration to other climates we adopted other skin colours. God created humanity, we are all equal but we changed our lives according to the environment where we live.

    Very great post, Roger. My daughter married an Australian who happens to be Aboriginal. They have two beautiful children. There are many Aborigenes married to “white”partners.

  6. It makes me sick to my stomach to see the ignorance and fear that still prevail when it comes to love. I am passionately angry about gays and lesbians not able to marry. This is the perfect post because it doesn’t point out the hatred as much as it shows the luminescent quality of love. Beautiful, Roger!

  7. Funny, Hallmark hasn’t latched onto that day of celebration.
    I am a product of interracial marriage and even in Hawaii in the ’50’s my parents had to some extent, persevere the flack of interracial marriage.

    I love what Wendy had to say about the luminescent quality of love.

    Amen to that!

    And, I can’t help but wonder what Jesus would have said about that judges remarks.

    You always get us thinking, Roger!

  8. Thanks for a wonderful, thoughtful post, Roger. There are people of many colors in my family, so we are all color-blind. I was born in 1946, and by the time I could talk, I knew all people were meant to be equal. My father was emphatic about that. I once referred to a friend as “Japanese-Canadian” and my father was furious. “Your friend is Canadian,” he said. “As long as people are mentioning racial differences, there will BE racial differences. We have to stop talking about such things, and only then will they cease to matter.”
    I know what he meant, and as much as I hate to disagree with him when he is no longer here to argue back, I think we still have to talk, not about differences, of course, but about inequalities. As long as any state or country has laws that enforce differences, there will continue to be inequalities.
    — Kay, Alberta

  9. Kay – I’m afraid I agree with you (and disagree w your dad) for the reasons you state.

  10. Wonderful post, Roger! But it’s hard to understand how 17% still believe God separated the races on different continents so they wouldn’t mix!

  11. When we talk about such things we usually forgot many things about that and people should read this to get more information about it.

  12. What an apt name, a great day to celebrate the 14th amendment and the power of love.
    Not only is the 1958 judge nutty he does not follow his own logic, the only people in North America that ‘God’ put there are 1st nation people. Always think, thank goodness these days are long ago, and yet you say there are people running for congress with those same fascist ideas.

  13. Evidently the trail judge in 1959 didn’t know his Scripture very well or he would have known that Moses (a Jew) married Zipporah (a Midianite). Many bible scholars believe Zipporah was of darker skin as there are also references to Moses’ wife being a Kushite/Cushite. In either case, God punishes Aaron and Miriam for their prejudice against her as his wife. The bible makes no specific reference to interracial marriage.

    Great post as always. I imagine Jesus would respond to this topic with something about casting the first stone….

  14. Wendy – I almost got into the gay marriage thing, but it was getting a bit long. Warrants its own post.

  15. Pingback: L is for Lions
  16. Very interesting story.

    I was 10, in Borneo, there was no law against inter marriage, but it was shun on socially.

    Mum’s cousin ( a Chinese) wanted to marry her boss ( an Indian) The bride’s family suspected the ugly dark Indian had put a hex on the beautiful fair Chinese. The old man took a mirror out and said, ” You monkey, you want to marry my beautiful daughter?”

    She went ahead, the family except her adopted Mother disowned her.” It was 1964.

    Now, my siblings ( 9 of us) 2 have married Whites. 2 natives of Borneo. 3 of us have married outside the region.

  17. Very interesting post. I am the fourth generation of interracial marriage. My great grandfather is from Spain.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. but today I think we’ve tolerated more, even adapted this intermarriage culture already… in the face of boundary fluidity I think anybody can now marry anybody … nice one..

    ABC Wednesday Here

  19. Nice post, Roger. I had read about the Jeter/Loving marriage before – how fateful his name was Loving! In 1987 I was already with my Chinese-born soul mate. I relate. Love does conquer all.

  20. I knew about this story, because it’s just so unbelievable !! But when I was in the States in 1971 despite the new laws, there were still banks and toilets for “white” only ! in some States ! I just couldn’t believe it.
    I wondered about the so praised “Freedom” !

  21. It’s hard to know what to say. It’s almost impossible to believe that there are still people who object to mixed race relationships. We can only hope that, with time, the last 17% realise how wrong they are.
    Excellent post this week. Thanks.

  22. that was quite an interesting read – never heard about it and so glad they pursued it to the Supreme court. Mankind still has a way to go though, sadly.

  23. Well done, Roger. I take heart that public opinion has so vastly changed over 50 years. There’s still plenty of corrosive intolerance existing in our world today, but your post proves that people’s minds can be changed.

  24. There is a story I had never heard.
    Even Moses got harassed for his choice of a spouse (He had married a Midianite woman.) and God smote the haggler, his sister, with leprosy. Kind of shows God has the idea were all one race, the human race.

  25. What a very interesting and powerful piece. I am always so incredulous at the ignorance of people who have to poke in the bedrooms of others! Let’s hope that candidate doesn’t get elected!

  26. Sometimes my mind gets all wonky when I read this stuff and realize it’s not a bad dream. Thanks for sharing this powerful piece.

  27. Fascinating post as always. I can’t understand where these laws benefitted anyone – the Lovings look like they belong together.

  28. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people can be in their ignorance and prejudice. Seems like we’re not in the 21t Century. Loved the post, Roger, awesome!

    Kisses from us.

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