Gratitude for the Lovings

It’s been a busy month, but today Dempsey and I took some time and finally went to go see the movie, Loving. It’s the story of Richard and Mildred Loving. He was white and she was black, and they fell in love in the late 1950s in their small community in Virginia.

Because mixed-race marriages were illegal at that time in Virginia, and in fact in much of the United States, they drove to Washington, D.C. to marry. It was 1958.

A few weeks later, they were arrested in the middle of the night, and eventually convicted of violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act. They accepted a plea bargain in which the judge suspended their one-year prison sentence, provided they left the state and did not return together for a period of twenty-five years.

By 1964 the couple had three small children. They were living in Washington, and longed to be able to return home to raise their children. Encouraged by the Civil Rights Movement, Mildred wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

Kennedy turned her request over to the American Civil Liberties Union, who provided the couple with legal representation. In 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Virginia, citing the 14th Amendment. The court held that marriage is a fundamental civil right.

The movie tells their story quietly, and that is appropriate, because they were simple people. They were not activists of any kind, and they avoided the spotlight. They were just two people in love, who wanted to live as husband and wife and raise their family in peace and safety.

If there had not been a Richard and Mildred Loving, there would not have been an us. Dempsey and I were free to marry because of them, and I walked out of the theatre feeling humble and thankful.

The November 2016 issue of Glamour magazine has an article about the movie, and about the state of interracial marriage through the years. We are one of the couples featured in the article.

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