- Politics and Social Issues
Black Activists - Mildred Loving
Mildred Loving was born July 22, 1939 in Central Point,Virginia and died May 2, 2008 in Milford, Virginia. Richard Loving was born October 29, 1933 in Central Point, Virginia and died June 29, 1975 in Caroline County, Virginia. Mildred is best known for her interracial marriage to Richard Loving. Mildred and her husband Richard Loving were plaintiffs in the landmark United States Supreme Court case Loving v.Virginia. The Lovings’ were married in Washington DC but lived in Virginia where interracial marriages were banned. The Lovings’ case thrust them into the spotlight which was hard for the shy couple. The Lovings became a symbol for the struggle of interracial relationships around the country.
Mildred Loving’s parents were both part Native American and had deep roots in the Central Point, Virginia area. Central Point had a reputation of being a race friendly place even through the Jim Crow era. Mildred was a very skinny girl growing up and had the nickname Bean. Mildred met Richard when she was just 11 years old and Richard was 17. Mildred who was black and Richard who was white started dating quietly and when Mildred became pregnant the two decided to get married. Because interracial marriages were banned inVirginiathe two went to Washington DC to get married. Little did the two know that their marriage would change the course of history for interracial couples across the country.
After the Lovings returned home from getting married in Washington DC they settled down in their home in Virginia. A few weeks later the county sheriff with his deputies entered into the couple’s house and stormed into their bedroom where they were sleeping. The Lovings showed the sheriff that they had a marriage certificate but that did not matter because interracial marriages were banned in Virginia. Richard and Mildred had to go to jail and ended up pleading guilty to violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act. The Lovings took a plea bargain which meant they had to leave the state ofVirginiaand could not return for 25 years. The Lovings relocated to Washington DC to raise their family. With the civil rights movement in full bloom and the desire of the Lovings to move back toVirginiathey decided to take action. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union the Lovings took their case to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and when that did not work they took their case to the United States Supreme Court and won.
After the case was over the Lovings moved back to Virginia and returned to the life that they once knew; where they had built their home and raised their kids. About eight years later Richard and Mildred were in a serious car accident, a drunk driver struck their car and Richard was killed. During the accident Mildred lost her right eye. After the court battle was over Mildred was closed mouthed and did not do most interview requests; wanting to put the case behind her. Having enough of the spotlight Mildred lived a quiet family life until her death.
Mildred Loving and her husband left quite a legacy on the country. Because of the Lovings court case there was a movie and book written about their experience and even an unofficial holiday June 12th called Loving Day. The Lovings’ cause enabled every state to erase prohibition against interracial marriages from each state’s constitution. The Lovings made huge changes from small gestures. Their love and devotion for each other and their family enabled other interracial couples to follow suit.