There’s a saying that “love is colorblind.” Depending on your perspective, that statement, is either an affirmation or a controversial one. Throughout much of American history, in the eyes of the law, love was anything but colorblind, especially on the subject of interracial marriage relationships. That being said, today’s black history moment takes us back to the state of Virginia, highlighting an inter-racial couple (black woman, white man) that won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case on the issue of interracial marriage.
The Loving v. Virginia (1967) case – Key Highlights
* In 1958, Mildred Jeter (an African American & Native American woman from VA) and Richard Loving (Caucasian man from VA), traveled to Washington, D.C. to marry, thereby evading Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924.
* Upon the Lovings’ return to Virginia in 1958, they were charged under Sections 20-58 and 20-59 of the Virginia Code, for miscegenation (interracial marriage), and leaving VA to interracially marry & subsequently return to VA afterwards.
* In 1959, the Lovings were convicted and sentenced in VA to one year in prison for interracial cohabitation as husband and wife. Prison sentence was suspended upon the condition that the Loving couple leave VA, and not return to VA together for at least 25 years.
* Mildred & Richard Loving ultimately appealed their VA conviction to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
* On June 12, 1967, SCOTUS issued a unanimous 9-0 decision in the Lovings’ favor, which overturned their convictions.
The Loving v. Virginia (1967) case – Significance
* The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws as an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection & Due Process Clauses
* Struck down anti-miscegenation laws in other states across the United States
* Increased number of interracial marriages occurred in America in the aftermath of the 1967 Loving v. Virginia SCOTUS ruling
Visit the websites below and/or conduct your own research to learn more about the factors surrounding the Loving v. Virginia (1967) case, and the significance of that landmark Supreme Court case ruling.
Encyclopedia Virginia – Racial Integrity Laws (1924-1930)
Eugenics, Race, and Marriage
History.com: Loving v. Virginia – Case, Summary & Decision
Documentary (four episodes): “The Loving Generation – Inside Mixed-Race Identity”
NBC News article (April 13, 2007): “After 40 years, interracial marriage flourishing”