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Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court decisions’

The Legacy of Loving v. Virginia

A recent statistic showed 1 in 6 marriages today is interracial.  This is certainly not a difficult number to grasp.  Imagine though that a mere 50 years ago in 16 Southern states interracial marriage was against the law — anti-miscegenation laws designed to preserve “racial integrity.”  While 50 years may seem like a long time ago in the rather short history of the United States, the country is only two generations removed from forbidding people from different races to marry.

Yesterday, June 12, was Loving Day.  It marked a significant day in our nation’s civil rights history albeit one that is not as well known as Brown v. Board of Education.  On that day in 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled unconstitutional laws prohibiting interracial marriage.  The impact of the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision is still felt today.

Loving v. Virginia Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were married in 1958.  He was white, she black and Native American.  Their marriage was a violation of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, and just five weeks into their marriage they were arrested.  Neither Richard nor Mildred wanted to be a civil rights activist.  They wanted only to live and raise their family quietly in Virginia.  Watch the 2016 movie Loving to see an excellent dramatization of their story and struggle.

The Loving decision paved the way for marriage equality.  The landmark Supreme Court ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which opened the door to same-sex marriage, evokes memories of Loving.  Mildred Loving even spoke in favor of gay marriage before her death in 2008.  Another impact of Loving is a fivefold growth in interracial marriages since 1967 when only three percent of marriages were racially mixed.  Interracial couples still face discrimination and hostility, but there has been much progress since Richard and Mildred Loving took their stand.

Katie and Chris [Photo Courtesy of Katie Coulter]

Teachers:  How can you relate this to your students?  Marriage for most of them is years away.  But they are dating and in relationships now.  More than 11 million Americans are in interracial marriages and relationships today, like my niece Katie and her boyfriend Chris.  The Loving decision and its continuing impact should not be forgotten in the civil rights discussion.  eLibrary can help you in this discussion with relevant Research Topics (Civil Rights Movement, Gay Marriage, Race and Ethnicity, Racial Segregation, White Supremacy) and up-to-date newspaper articles surrounding the 50th anniversary of Loving.