Mildred Loving Has Died.

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In an article that (oddly, in my view) refers to Loving as “the Matriarch of Interracial Marriage,” Yahoo News reports:

Mildred Loving, a black woman whose challenge to Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling striking down such laws nationwide, has died, her daughter said Monday….

… Loving and her white husband, Richard, changed history in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. The ruling struck down laws banning racially mixed marriages in at least 17 states.

They had married in Washington in 1958, when she was 18. Returning to their Virginia hometown, they were arrested within weeks and convicted on charges of “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth,” according to their indictments.

The couple avoided a year in jail by agreeing to a sentence mandating that they immediately leave Virginia. They moved to Washington and launched a legal challenge a few years later.

You can read the Supreme Court opinion in Loving v. Virginia here. You can listen to the oral argument that preceeded the opinion here.

This entry was posted in Feminism and Law, Race and Racism. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Mildred Loving Has Died.

  1. Kathleen Bergin says:

    A sad passing, indeed.

    One note on the report that I blogged at The Faculty Lounge:

    Loving is usually described as an “inter-racial” marriage case, but it even goes beyond that. The statute in Virginia didn’t ban “racially mixed marriages ” as the article describes, but only some racially mixed marriages. It made it a felony for “any white person [to] intermarry with a colored person, or any colored person [to] intermarry with a white person.” In other words, Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, or any other persons of color could marry with each other, but could not marry someone who was White. The state’s need to defend “racial integrity” as Virginia claimed fell flat because the statute was designed to preserve White racial purity exclusively. Its one of the quintessential White supremacy cases of the era.

    -Kathleen A. Bergin


    “Loving” is a poignant last name to have when the state challenges someone right to a relationship. In the 1960’s, Virginia refused to recognize a marriage between Richard and Mildred Loving, leading (finally…in 1967!) to a US Supreme Court case declaring unconstitutional state bans on interracial marriage. Mildred Loving died on Friday; her husband predeceased her by many years. The news today included many tributes to her and the historic case that bears her name.

    The movement for marriage for same-sex couples has invoked the Lovings in the quest for marriage equality. And, frankly, opponents of same-sex marriage sound lame when they stretch to differentiate one type of vilified relationship from the other. Mildred Loving herself issued a statement of support for same-sex marriage last year. BUT, it’s a good time to keep in mind another Loving —Fondray Loving and his partner, Olivia Shelltrack, whose legal problems captured headlines two years ago. The couple had lived together for 13 years and had two children plus a third who was Olivia’s from a prior relationship. This family constellation fell outside the zoning laws of Black Jack, Missouri; after the couple bought a home there, the city denied them an occupancy permit. The city relented only after the ACLU got involved.

    While Mildred Loving’s case was about being able to marry the person you love, Fondray Loving’s case was about not being required to. Both principles are important.

    –Nancy Polikoff (you can find this post with hyperlinks on my blog:

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