National Loving Day isn’t just a random sweet holiday. Here’s the deeper story, and why you’ll want to celebrate.

Chief justice: ‘The freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the state’

Mildred and Richard Loving.
Mildred and Richard Loving. (Getty Images)

A lot has changed since the 1960s. And the world can change quickly, too. The country feels like a different place lately, even compared to January of this year.

But there is a continuing battle for racial justice and equality, and as most know, it’s been a long, hard road.

In honor of the current actions being taken to reach that goal, we thought it’d be appropriate to honor a big win that came in 1967.

National Loving Day is held on the anniversary of the day that all anti-miscegenation laws were struck down. What does that mean? In short, people were allowed to marry interracially.

But let us tell you a little more about the case that changed lives, because it’s a story worth telling.

Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter fell in love after knowing each other for years. The two grew up in the small town of Central Point, Virginia.

In June 1958, Richard, a white construction worker, and Mildred, a woman of mixed African American and Native American ancestry, married in Washington, D.C., according to History.com.

At the time, many states still acknowledged the Act to Preserve Racial Integrity.

“Racial integrity laws,” as they were called, were passed by the General Assembly to protect “whiteness” against what many Virginians perceived to be the negative effects of race-mixing, according to Encyclopedia Virginia.

Virginia was included in the states that still recognized the laws, but in D.C., interracial marriage was legal. So Richard and Mildred wed there, but five weeks after returning home from their wedding, they were arrested by the local sheriff and indicted on charges of violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, according to History.com.

The couple pleaded guilty the next year and were forced to leave Virginia and not return together for 25 years.

In 1963, the couple had three kids and resided in Washington, D.C., but wanted to return home.

Here is where the story takes a turn.

After writing a letter to then-U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the American Civil Liberties Union agreed to take their case, thus bringing about the Loving V. Virginia Supreme Court case, which finally made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in April 1967.

It wasn’t an easy or quick change of the anti-miscegenation laws. In fact, during the case, Virginia’s then-assistant attorney defended the law, comparing it to regulations against incest and polygamy.

But two young ACLU lawyers who were aiding the Lovings argued the law -- and others like it -- were rooted in white supremacy and racism, according to History.com.

“These are not health and welfare laws. These are slavery laws, pure and simple,” Philip Hirschkop, one of the couple’s lawyers, argued.

He added that the Virginia statute was illegal under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbid states to restrict basic rights of citizens or other persons.

The Supreme Court announced its unanimous decision on June 12, 1967, that Virginia’s interracial marriage law violated the amendment. It not only overturned the conviction against the Lovings from 1958, but it also struck down laws against interracial marriage in the remaining 16 states that still observed the law.

“Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the state,” Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote.

Though some states were slow to change their laws, the ruling on the case dealt a major blow to segregation.

The Lovings moved back to Central Point, Virginia, where they went on to raise their three children.

And while there are still many hurdles to jump in achieving racial justice and equality, we believe this huge win — now commemorated every year as “Loving Day” — is one worth recognizing and celebrating.

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#LovingDay Story ♥️ Vee & Allie (Portugese/Serbian & East Indian) "We both attended the same elementary school, where we were friends. Twenty years later we reconnected and rekindled our friendship and to our surprise, it quickly blossomed into a romance. Being in an interracial relationship has come with so many blessings and opportunities for self-growth, which has made us stronger as a couple. We approach our relationship with an open mind and taken every opportunity to embrace one another’s culture. We grew up in the same neighborhood with a lot of Portuguese influences. Over the years he attended cultural festivals that helped him learn more about my culture. Although he his Hindu, he attended a Catholic elementary school where he learned more about my faith. There was a comfort knowing that he was already familiar with my background, but nonetheless, still desires to learn more about both of my cultures. We’re making plans to visit Portugal and Serbia next year. I too have had the opportunity to learn about the Hindu culture. In a recent trip to India for a family wedding I had the pleasure of participating in all of the traditional Hindu ceremonies and immersed myself in the culture and the many new enlightening experiences. While this could have felt overwhelming, I was welcomed and treated like family right from the beginning. One of the many reasons that we have a successful, healthy and loving relationship is because we share so many similar values; the most important is family. Navigating family has been effortless from day one. We are blessed to have loving and supportive families and friends who have never set any expectations for us. They have always had our best interests at heart and want nothing but the best for us. Every time we visit with our families we are greeted with open arms and big smiles and it brings us so much joy seeing our parents’ faces light up with happiness when they see us together. We recognized early on that our willingness to learn about our cultures and lead with love and respect for another, race would never be an issue in our relationship. "

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