Loving v. Virginia

Written by Joann Thach

Loving Day
June 12, or Loving Day, celebrates multiracial families by commemorating the ruling of Loving v. Virginia (1967), a Supreme Court case that overturned state laws banning interracial marriage in the United States. The story of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter is one of many examples that served to challenge American laws banning miscegenation, defined as any marriage or sexual relations among people of different races.

The Story of the Lovings
Richard and Mildred met each other as young teenagers who were raised in a mixed community in Virginia where people saw themselves as family regardless of race. It was not uncommon for people of mixed race to intermingle, work, or date. Naturally, over time, they made the decision to get married, traveling to Washington DC where it was legal for interracial couples to get married and returning back to Virginia afterwards. Five weeks later, the local sheriff woke the Lovings in the middle of the night and charged them with violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law. After a period of court appearances where the Lovings were forced to leave Virginia and live in exile, Mildred reached out to the U.S. Attorney General who referred the Lovings to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A long legal case ensued over the debate of the 14th amendment and what it meant to guarantee all citizens due process and equal protection under the law. After successfully debating that Virginia’s interracial marriage law was rooted in racism and white supremacy, the Supreme Court announced its ruling in Loving v. Virginia in favor of the Lovings.

What Happened Here?
Couples like Richard and Mildred Loving can now celebrate their love openly and be recognized as a family under the law without penalty. However, this does not mean that society has culturally accepted interracial families as normal. The dominant narrative is still same-race relationships, and with the rise of multiracial identities, there’s a lack of belonging that is experienced by many children growing up today. On a personal account, I have witnessed dirty looks being exchanged by others, whispers and snide comments on the side. These microaggressions compound over time and what comes with the lack of full acceptance is the internalization and rejection of your own identity and being.

Brave souls have started doing their inner work to heal. See below to read some of their experiences below:

Why is this Important?
It was only 56 years ago that interracial marriages were recognized as legitimate. We are only now seeing the effects of the decision with the rise of multiracial families. However, racism still persists, embedded deep within our country’s history and unknowingly upheld by the systems that were intended to serve us. Fear, intolerance, and lack of understanding contributes to the experiences of racism, and as a result, racial trauma experienced by black, brown and people of color are passed down through generations, perpetuating false narratives about themselves and the world around them. We do not have much control over what happens externally in society, but we do have control over ourselves, our inner narrative, and our decision to learn and understand each other. Choosing to learn and unlearn healthy behaviors, while loving our fellow human is a great place to start.

For more information on trauma and healing, please visit our resources on our website.