But why Loving Day?
Loving v. Virginia was an important Supreme Court case, but it was also the story of a real couple. Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving grew up in Virginia state, USA. They first met when she was 11 and he was 17. They fell in love and decided to get married. Unfortunately, getting married was not as simple in 1958 as it was today. Mildred was black and Richard was white. At that time it was forbidden people of different races to marry each other. It was the law in lot of USA states. However, interracial marriage was legal in Washington, DC at that time. So, they decided to go to DC, get married, and return to Virginia to begin their life together.
But when they returned home, they were arrested, jailed and banished from the state for 25 years for violating the state’s Racial Integrity Act. To avoid jail, the Lovings agreed to leave Virginia and relocate to Washington, where they had three children.
Some years later, they decided to contact one young attorney called Bernard Cohen to ask the Caroline County judge to reconsider his decision.
“They just were in love with one another and wanted the right to live together as husband and wife in Virginia, without any interference from officialdom. When I told Richard that this case was, in all likelihood, going to go to the Supreme Court of the United States, he became wide-eyed and his jaw dropped,” Cohen recalls.
After the Court unanimously ruled in favor of the young couple, they returned to Virginia, where they lived with their three children. Richard Loving died in a car crash in 1975 and Mildred Loving died May 5, 2008 at the age of 68.
Each June 12, the anniversary of the ruling, Loving Day events around the USA mark the advances of mixed-race couples. Coincidently, in Brazil, June 12 is celebrated “Dia dos Namorados” (Lovers’ Day, in free translation). This day is kind of a Valentine’s Day, but it is celebrated only by couples, as ‘namorados’ means boyfriend or girlfriend in portuguese.
You should check out The Loving Story about the Loving v. Virginia case, a documentary film premiered by HBO. Watch the trailer below.