Monday, February 13, 2012

Love, Love, Love The Lovings!

Mildred and Richard Loving
Tomorrow is Valentines Day and HBO is airing The Loving Story.  This documentary film tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, and also examines the current state of interracial marriage and its tolerance in the United States.
When I first read about the Lovings several years ago, I thought what a fitting (and ironic) name for them!
Richard Loving was white, and his wife, Mildred, black. In 1958, since they couldn’t marry in their home state of Virginia where interracial marriage was banned, they went to Washington, D.C. where they could legally wed.  However, upon returning home as a married couple, they were arrested, jailed and banished from the state for 25 years for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act.
The Lovings agreed to leave Virginia and relocated to Washington. By doing this they avoided jail time. But after living there for five years and having three children, they missed family and friends and wanted to return home to Caroline County, Virginia. 
Around this time they contacted Bernard Cohen, an attorney volunteering at the ACLU, to request that he ask the Caroline County judge to reconsider his decision.
Cohen and another lawyer challenged the Lovings' conviction, but the original judge in the case, Leon Bazile, upheld his ruling claiming: "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. ... The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
The case moved all the way up to the Supreme Court where Cohen made this argument:
"The Lovings have the right to go to sleep at night knowing that if should they not wake in the morning, their children would have the right to inherit from them. They have the right to be secure in knowing that, if they go to sleep and do not wake in the morning, that one of them, a survivor of them, has the right to Social Security benefits. All of these are denied to them, and they will not be denied to them if the whole anti-miscegenistic scheme of Virginia... [is] found unconstitutional." 
After the ruling, in their favor (now known as the "Loving Decision") they returned home to Caroline County.
A happy ending to now what seems an unbelievable story—and believe it or not, they were arrested in the privacy of their bedroom during the middle of the night!
Had you ever heard of the Lovings' story? 
Thanks for visiting, and Happy Valentine's Day!


Old Kitty said...

I did see a Mr and Mrs Loving film with Timothy Hutton in it!!!! It was such a wonderful film - got me very very very angry at the stupid ruling - but yay that love conquers all!!! Oh I wish I could watch this HBO documentary! I hope they get to show it here in the UK - it's a fabulous amazing story! Take care

Maria McKenzie said...

I'll have to see that film with Timothy Hutton! I saw it for sale on Amazon last night--didn't know about it until then! Their story is fabulous and amazing;)!

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I had not heard of the Lovings, but what a neat story - so glad it had a happy ending after all their struggles! It's hard to imagine such a thing happening now, but I bet same-sex couples can relate. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Maria McKenzie said...

Hi, Jennette! It is hard to imagine that today! So glad times have changed:).

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Wow. I had not heard that story, but I'm going to make a point of watching it!

Last night, my 14 YO daughter was expounding on how dumb it is that same-sex couples can't marry, and couldn't figure out why on earth the government cares. She'll be blown away to learn that interracial marriage was ever illegal.

I am so glad that my kids don't understand segregation (they know about it, they just don't know why on earth it was ever considered 'necessary' by anyone).

Intangible Hearts said...

Thanks for sharing the story of the Lovings. So sad, but true love endures forever and I hope they are loving together...somewhere today.

Michele said...

Yes, I remember those times!
Another one like this was told in the movie, The Great White Hope, with James Earl Jones.

Maria McKenzie said...

@Teri Anne: When segregation was considered so necessary, I wonder if state governments ever thought about how expensive it was?

@Desert Rocks: I love happy endings! Unfortunately their happy ending didn't last that long. He was killed in a car crash in 1975. But, at least they were happy for a while.

@Michele: I love that movie! I just rented it a few months back. It was based on real life fighter Jack Johnson. I read a bio of his a few years ago that was just great, entitled Unforgiveable Blackness. Definitely worth reading!!

William Kendall said...

I was not familiar with the story, so thank you for posting it.

Judge Bazile sounded like a vile, rotten man.

Maria McKenzie said...

Hey, William! You're welcome:). There were a lot of vile, rotten people around back then regarding that issue:(.