Loving Day commemorates the landmark decision made by the Supreme Court in 1967 legalizing interracial marriage. The case, as well as the holiday, is named after the legendary couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, who went up against the US government to assist in eradicating miscegenation laws.
Childhood sweethearts, Richard Loving (White) and Mildred Jeter (Black) were born and raised in Caroline County, Virginia – where interracial marriage was deemed “unnatural” as well as illegal – and travelled to Washington DC to wed in 1959. Shortly after their return, it was revealed that the two were man and wife, prompting the local sheriff to break into their property in the middle of the night and arrest the pair while they lay sleeping.
After their subsequent trial, the Loving’s were sentenced to a one year prison sentence for their “offense,” which was waived provided they spend no less than 25 years outside their home state of Virginia. After several years of strain, determination and the help of the ACLU, the Loving vs. Virginia case was finally heard by the Supreme Court, and 1967, all miscegenation laws in the U.S. were considered unconstitutional stating that “bans on interracial marriage violated both the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the constitutional requirement of due process.”
Although the vile and obsolete miscegenation laws were eliminated 42 years ago (with a few exception – Alabama removed the law in 2000), Loving Day was not declared a holiday until 2004. This comes as no surprise as centuries of social dysfunction has brainwashed Americans of both African and European ancestry around the issue of intercultural intimacy. The idea of interracial relationships (particularly of the Black/White variety) tend to trigger strong feelings in many of us, as it can be perceived as a direct challenge to a long standing white supremacist structure; blurring the stark lines separating manufactured enemies.
In defiance of this archaic notion, Loving Day was founded by the son of an interracial couple, Ken Tanabe, who became deeply appalled upon learning of the severity of such laws. What began as his graduate thesis project became a global network of celebrations marking this momentous shift in civil rights.
It often seems as though many of us take for granted the opportunity to hold heated debates centering around the existence interracial partnerships – which highlights the total gravity of the holiday: Loving Day serves to remind us that the freedom to choose whom to love, free from legal persecution, is an integral step towards balancing the scales of equality and the gradual healing from the loss of our humanity.
To learn how you can observe Loving Day, peep this.