Normally my “holiday” posts are fun little ditties about celebrating pickles or something equally silly. Today is a little different. Today is Loving day.
This isn’t about loving your neighbor- as much as we all should do that! Today is about a young couple in love named Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving. They fell in love and decided to get married. However, there was one small problem. They lived in Virginia in 1958. Mildred was black and Richard was white. It was illegal for them to marry! They married in a state where it was legal and then went back home, but even THAT was illegal under Virginia law! Soon after they wed they were both sent to prison for the crime of marrying the person they loved. At their trial they were given the option to leave the state instead of going back to jail. They moved to the Washington DC area but continued to experience racism along with the knowledge that if they ever went back to Virginia they would be jailed.
Eventually their plight reached the Supreme Court and the court ruled that laws prohibiting marriages between races were unconstitutional. Mildred and Richard were finally able to return home. They had three children and remained married until 1975 when Richard was killed in a car accident.
As some of you know, I dated a couple of guys of different ethnicities in my early 30s, one for over a year and a half. While there are a laundry list of reasons why it didn’t work out, race wasn’t one of them. I experienced shocking racism in restaurants simply for having dinner with someone who didn’t look like me and it made me sick. Love is love and should be celebrated, not judged. I can’t imagine the courage Mildred and Richard had to live and love as they did and their story needs to be celebrated and remembered by everyone.