On this day in 1967, the Supreme Court struck down a Virginia law against interracial marriage in a case known as Loving v. Virginia. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the center of the case. They were from Virginia but married in DC, where interracial marriage was legal at the time. They tried to return to Virginia after being married, but were arrested. They plead guilty to violating the Virginia law and were forbidden to return to Virginia for twenty five years.
The case which made it to the Supreme Court was preceded in 1955 by a similar case in which the Virginia Supreme Court ruled to uphold the law against interracial marriage. In this case, the prosecution successfully argued that the state had a compelling interest to protect against interracial marriage because it would produce a “mongrel breed of citizens” through “the corruption of blood.”
Why the history lesson? Because it’s worth remembering that until very recently, the idea that white people were superior than others was the literal law of the land. Institutions like the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that mixed race children were such an abomination as to necessitate laws against interracial marriage.
As a native Virginian in an interracial marriage who has a mixed-race daughter, this hits home for me. The kind of marriage I have with my wife was illegal when my dad was a child. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that public opinion polls showed a majority of Americans supported interracial marriage.
We can wrongly think that progress on racial matters is inevitable. We think that the kind of ignorant racism which persecuted people for marrying outside of their race was always going to go away. It only went away because people like Richard and Mildred were willing to fight it. Today I thank God for them.
Happy Loving Day.
- Praise God for the courage of people like Richard and Mildred.
- Praise God that unjust laws have been overturned.
- Pray that remnants of evil would disappear fully, and that Christians especially would celebrate interracial families.