Today is a very special anniversary for my family. Forty-three years ago today, Mildred and Richard Loving won the Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, allowing interracial couples to marry.
Illegal to marry in Virginia, the Loving’s drove to Washington DC to take their vows. Upon return to Virginia, they were arrested and sentenced to one year in prison for violation of the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 that criminalized marriage between whites and non-whites. Their sentence was suspended for 25 years on the condition they agreed to leave the state.
The Lovings appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Loving v. Virginia, was decided unanimously in the Lovings’ favor on June 12, 1967. The Court overturned their convictions.
The couple never wanted to be famous, just happy. They went on to have three children.
Richard Loving died at age 41 in 1975, when a drunken driver struck their car. Mildred Loving died of pneumonia on May 2, 2008, in Milford, Virginia, at age 68. Her daughter, Peggy, said, “I want [people] to remember her as being strong and brave, yet humble—and believ[ing] in love.” The final sentence in Mildred Loving’s obituary in the New York Times read, “A modest homemaker, Loving never thought she had done anything extraordinary. ‘It wasn’t my doing,’ Loving told the Associated Press in a 2007 interview. ‘It was God’s work.’
On a personal note, I, too, think it was God’s work. His signature is in their last name!