National Loving Day on June 12 is a day of celebration for all interracial couples in the United States, as it marks the anniversary of the breakthrough case of Loving V. Virginia when the United States Supreme Court ruled that all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen states in 1967 should be struck down and effectively ended. The anti-miscegenation laws in place before this decision meant that mixed-race marriages were illegal in those sixteen states.
While this is not an official federal holiday, National Loving Day is recognized as the biggest multiracial commemoration in America. Interracial couples across the country take the opportunity to celebrate their love and honor the two people who made all this possible, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving.
History of National Loving Day
The history and origins of Loving Day are directly connected to the love story of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, whose love and relationship were the catalyst to end anti-miscegenation laws in the United States.
Who were Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving
Mildred and Richard were childhood friends who met in their hometown in Virginia when she was 11 and he was 17. Throughout the years their friendship grew and blossomed into something more romantic. When, in 1958, Mildred turned 18, the couple went to Washington, DC to get married. This was because Mildred was black and Richard was white, and interracial marriages were legal in Washington at the time.
The plan was to get married and move back to Virginia to start their life together. However, upon returning to their hometown, Mildred and Richard were arrested as the law in Virginia forbade interracial marriage, as well as couples getting married in another state and returning to Virginia. At their trial, they were sentenced to three years in prison but were given the choice to suspend their sentence if they left Virginia for 25 years. The Lovings then decided to move to Washington DC.
The Loving v. Virginia landmark case
While living in Washington, away from their families and still facing discrimination, the Lovings wrote to Robert F. Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney General, who referred their case to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Loving v. Virginia case eventually appeared before the United States Supreme Court, where the court Judges voted unanimously in their favor. This case was a landmark case for the United States, as it effectively invalidated all laws prohibiting interracial marriage in the country, which meant that mixed-race couples were now able to marry and live together in any state of their choice.
On June 12, 1967, the court's majority opinion was that “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides within the individual and cannot be infringed on by the State.”.
Why we celebrate National Loving Day
Mildred and Richard Loving fought not only for their right to marry and live together in their home states but also fought for the rights of all interracial couples in the United States. That's why, on the anniversary of their court case victory, we commemorate the huge advancement made on that day for all mixed-race couples and their right to live in harmony.
Celebrations for National Loving Day were inspired by Juneteenth and began in 2004, and were founded by Ken Tanabe. Ken was the son of a mixed-race couple, with a Japanese father and a Belgian mother.
How to Celebrate National Loving Day
Organizers for this day encourage people to celebrate it by hosting small parties in their living rooms or backyards, where they can hold discussions about the Loving v. Virginia case and its legacy.
This day is also about showing solidarity towards each other as part of a multiethnic community and learning more about, talking about, and bringing visibility to the issues that affect people of color and their communities.
Honor the legacy of the Lovings on this day by being part of the change that you want to see in the world.