In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Loving v. Virginia, that banning interracial marriage was unconstitutional. The couple at the center of the landmark ruling, Richard and Mildred Loving, are now the focus of a motion picture, Loving, to be released this fall.
Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were Virginia natives who married in Washington, D.C., in 1958, which didn’t have anti-miscegenation laws. At that time, sixteen states, including Virginia, had laws that outlawed interracial marriage.
When the couple moved back to Virginia, they were faced with the harsh realities of racism and the state’s so-called right to “protect racial integrity.”
A judge in the state charged and sentenced the Lovings because of their illegal union, but promised to suspend their sentence for 25 years if they left the state. For several years, the couple snuck back and forth to Virginia to see friends and family. But by 1963, the Lovings decided to enlist the help of the ACLU, which brought the case through several appeals before it landed at the Supreme Court as Loving vs. Virginia.
After a two-month process of legal haggling, on July 12, 1967, the Court ruled to overturn Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924. The Lovings were now free to live wherever they wanted and they settled back in Virginia.
This coming Sunday, National Loving Day will take place to commemorate the Supreme Court ruling. There is a petition now circulating hoping to persuade President Barack Obama to make National Loving Day a national holiday.
The film about the Lovings will be released this November.