The Loving v. Virginia case was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws in the country in 1967.
The case centered around Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black woman who were married in Virginia in 1958, and were subsequently arrested for violating the state’s anti-miscegenation laws. The Lovings were forced to leave Virginia and were barred from returning until their case was heard by the Supreme Court.
In the landmark decision, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down all anti-miscegenation laws in the country, declaring them unconstitutional. The Loving v. Virginia case is remembered as a landmark moment in the civil rights movement and is still celebrated today.
Central Point Virginia: 1:03
Early life and marriage: 1:28
After the arrest: 4:04
Filing Loving vs Virginia: 4:34
Supreme Court Decision: 8:08
Life after the court case: 10:15
If you want to visit any of these locations, here is the Google Maps link:
Episode 96 – The Lovings vs Virginia
Episode 96 – The Lovings vs Virginia
Jenn: Walk with history today is gonna talk about the power of love and its ability to change history from Central Point, Virginia.
I said I think to learn who you want to is all right. That no man should have anything to do with it’s a God give, right? I think Mildred Loving married the boy next door, Richard Loving. Richard Loving is a construction worker. Mildred Loving, the daughter was sharecropper. They were born and raised in Caroline County, Virginia, where white and colored people seem unaware of the racial prejudice that exists in much of the country.
But Lovings didn’t know that it was a crime for a white person to marry a Negro in Virginia. They found out the hard way. This is the marker at the corner of Sparta Road and Richmond Turnpike 3 0 1. Richard and Mildred leaving. They fell in love in June, 1958 and were married in Washington DC on June 2nd, 1958, and they were arrested for violating the state laws against interracial marriage on July 12th, 1958, Sparta Road and Passing Road.
This is basically central Point. You have St. Stephen’s Baptist Church. There’s the cemetery where the lovings are buried. There’s the school right behind me and looked like it was probably the local grocery store or convenience store, um, country store. And this was the area their families both grew up in Caroline County.
And even when I sit here, uh, in the cemetery, there’s a lot of jeters and there’s a lot of birds. Last names and that is Mildred’s family names. They met in high school and they fell in love in high school and they decided to get married in 1958. But this area of Virginia, this is a central point. This had been a race mix community since the 19th century, so this was kind of an area where people.
We’re interracially dating and marrying and really not bothering anybody. So when the lovings get married in June of 1958, they go up to Washington DC to get married because the Jim Crow law is here. Wouldn’t let them get married at Virginia. And so after they get married, they come back here and settle down in a house that isn’t actually too far from here.
It’s high in the cemetery here, and they settled down, but not for long. In July of 1958, their house is raided by a sheriff from the county. Uh, local police raid their home. In the early morning of July 11th, 1958, the officers found the loving sleeping in their bed, and Mildred pointed to their marriage certificate on the bedroom.
And they were told the certificate is not valid in Virginia, uh, the lovings were both arrested, put into jail. Richard was bailed out early and Mildred spent a couple days in jail because they were concerned that they were gonna go back to cohabitation. And Mildred was only released from jail. In the, uh, custody of her father.
Uh, they were charged under Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia punishable by prison one to five years. So on January 6th, 1959, so this is about six months later, the lovings plead guilty to cohabitating as man and wife against the peace, but the sentence was con suspend.
On the condition that the couple leave Virginia and not return together for 25 years.
And his sister, his sister got a bonding company to, uh, get him out. And they told the bonding company if they tried to get me out, that they would put him back in jail.
So after this conviction, they settle in Washington DC and then what happens is, Anytime they try to come down here to Central Point where all their family is, like I told you, there’s a lot of family in this graveyard. It’s related. The sheriff and the police would try to catch them again and they could only come down.
If they came down separately. They couldn’t come down together, and it was just this game of cat and mouse, so mild. Decided to do something about it in 1963, frustrated by their inability to travel together to visit their families, and it came to a crescendo when their son was hit by a car. Now he wasn’t injured, but he had no place to play.
He was out in the street and he got hit by a car. And Mildred being completely frustrated in 1963. So this is about five. After their marriage, Mildred decides to write a letter in protest to the Attorney General at the time, who is Robert F. Kennedy. And Kennedy refers her letter to the A C L U, the American Civil Liberties Union, and that puts her in touch with an attorney Cohen.
Who actually practices out of Alexandria, Virginia, and they file a motion on behalf of the Lovings. He requests that the loving sentences be set aside on the grounds of mis segregation. Statues ran counter to the 14th Amendment equal protection clause from rural Virginia to urban jungle. The lovings, you can see the marker.
It’s on the side of the of the courthouse, right? During construction, right? Right beside city hall and the courthouse in the city of Richmond. And they have taken the loving marker down and propped it up against the building, but the lovings had to come down here and fight for their right to be married.
And they were actually, again, denied that privilege of if they were married and living together in Virginia, they would be arrest. So they were told, if you want to be married, you have to leave and if you stay here, you will be arrested. But there is a market here, loving verse Virginia, just to honor what they did and they took their fight.
From a small little town to the big city, then onto the nation, and they’re fighting for their right to be married. And ultimately they fight. They fought for everyone’s right to be married. And what’s interesting about the lovings is they’re not very. Outgoing people. They’re not trying to make a ruckus.
They’re just trying to live their lives. Richard was always very quiet and stoic and didn’t have a lot to say. Mildred, she is beautiful. And quiet and reserved, but very articulate when she speaks. So the judgment that comes back after that first district court, far Lang says that God created the races and placed them on separate continents.
There should be no inner marriage, and this is really what people believed at the time. The lovings appealed that decision, and then in 1966, that decision is upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court. The Lovings, who were still supported by the A C L U appealed that State Supreme Court decision. The. To the Supreme Court of the United States,
and they accept. The Lovings didn’t attend the arguments, but Cohen is there and Cohen asks Richard before he goes, anything you want me to say to the Supreme Court? And he goes, yeah, tell the court I love my wife and it’s unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.
They told us we would come to the Supreme Court if we wanted to, but so probably wouldn’t understand it. Just up to us if we wanted. So we didn’t even go. I didn’t want to go . I’m nervous enough tonight. Do you think that this brings you closer together? Yes, I do. I think. I guess
you, yeah, I think.
Chief Justice Earl Warren was, uh, the author of the Supreme Court, unanimous Opinion of Loving Versus Virginia. On June 12th, 1967, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous nine to zero decision in favor of the. Overturned their criminal convictions and struck down Virginia’s anti miss segregation law. The court said the freedom to marry is a fundamental constitutional right, and it held that depriving Americans of it on an arbitrary basis such as race was unconstitutional.
Today, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision the Lovings ordeal is at last. Richard and Mildred Loving have won the right to be man and wife, father and mother in the state of. Anti miscegenation laws have been declared illegal, not only in Virginia, but in all 16 states that have held such statutes.
So the court cases decided in 1967, but then in 1975, Richard Loving and Mildred. Loving were in a car accident. Um, they were hit by a drunk driver and Richard was unfortunately killed. And, um, his wife Mildred lost her eye, but she never remarried. She raises her children in the house and, uh, she’s buried her beside him.
The final sentence in Mildred’s Loving Obituary in the New York Time Notes. She was a modest homemaker. No loving. Never thought she had done anything extraordinary. It wasn’t my doing. It was God’s work. And I just find it so interesting that you can find bravery in some of the most unexpected places, even the smallest places, the power of.
The Power of Two, the Power of Love. Thank you for joining us today on this Walk with History. I hope you learn something about the Loving Couple. I hope you learn something about the power of love and the freedom to have the choice to spend your life with who you choose. On our next walk with.