Introducing the revival of maudern mavericks, our IG series that highlights the people who have pioneered sex education and reproductive and civil rights. Meet Mildred and Richard Loving, the Virginia couple who fought to legalize interracial marriage.
July 22, 1939 (Mildred) & October 29, 1933 (Richard); Central Point, Virginia
The interracial couple whose illegal marriage in the state of Virginia prompted a Supreme Court Case. Their nearly 10-year fight for marital equality ended in the legalization of their marriage in Virginia.
Both Mildred and Richard grew up in the small town of Central Point in Northeastern, Virginia. The town was a visible mixed-race community, where Richard was as a construction worker. Close with Mildred’s family, she and Richard began dating in her late teens and married in 1958 in DC. Upon returning to Central Point, the couple was arrested as interracial marriages were illegal by the anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia (along with 13 other states). They were sentenced to one year in prison, suspended 25 years on the condition that they leave Virginia.
The Fight for their Marriage
After 5 years of living in DC, the couple wished to return home and filed suit against the Virginia government to do so. In partnership with the ACLU, they filed a motion that stated the current laws in place violated the 14th amendment. The amendment adopted in 1868, more than 100 years before and as a result of the Civil War gave anyone born in the United States regardless of race the rights of citizens.
The couple appeared before the Virginia Supreme Court who deemed the ruling constitutional. The following year, their case appeared before the Supreme Court of the United States in Loving v. Virginia. Every justice ruled in their favor stating that the initial arrest and ruling against them was against the 14th amendment. Following the ruling, Richard and Mildred were able to move back to their home town.
The couple remained in Center Point with their three children until Richard’s death in 1975. Mildred lived until 2008. The pair remains a critical symbol of the fight for equal rights.
The couple’s groundbreaking case is still regarded as one of the most important rulings of the civil rights era. Their story has been the subject of three films, countless books, and is celebrated every year on June 12, the anniversary of the Supreme Court Ruling.
More on the Lovings
Loving, 2016; a film by Jeff Nichols
The Case for Loving: A Fight for Interracial Marriage
Virginia Hasn't Always Been for Lovers
The Lovings: A History-Making Couple, Life
The Loving Story