ONTD Political

The Lovings: The love story that changed history

10:18 pm - 01/21/2012
Just 45 years ago, 16 states deemed marriages between two people of different races illegal.


Tender: Mildred Loving greets husband Richard on their front porch in King and Queen County, Virginia, April 1965

But in 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the case of Richard Perry Loving, who was white, and his wife, Mildred Loving, of African American and Native American descent.

The case changed history - and was captured on film by LIFE photographer Grey Villet, whose black-and-white photographs are now set to go on display at the International Center of Photography.

Twenty images show the tenderness and family support enjoyed by Mildred and Richard and their three children, Peggy, Sidney and Donald.


Content: The Loving's children Peggy, Sidney and Donald play in King and Queen County, Virginia in April 1965

The children, unaware of the struggles their parents face, are captured by Villet as blissfully happy as they play in the fields near their Virginia home or share secrets with their parents on the couch.

Their parents, caught sharing a kiss on their front porch, appear more worry-stricken.

And it is no wonder - eight years prior, the pair had married in the District of Columbia to evade the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which banned any white person marrying any non-white person.

But when they returned to Virginia, police stormed into their room in the middle of the night and they were arrested.

The pair were found guilty of miscegenation in 1959 and were each sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for 25 years if they left Virginia.

They moved back to the District of Columbia, where they began the long legal battle to erase their criminal records - and justify their relationship.


A moment: Grey Villet captures Mildred and Richard Loving, their daughter Peggy, Mildred's sister Garnet and Richard's mother Lola, on the porch of Mildred's mother's house, Caroline County, Virginia in April 1965

Following vocal support from the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches, the Lovings won the fight - with the Supreme Court branding Virginia's anti-miscegenation law unconstitutional in 1967.

It wrote in its decision: 'Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival.

'To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.'


Content: Loving: Grey Villet's photograph captures Richard Loving kissing wife Mildred as he arrives home from work in King and Queen County, Virginia, April 1965

Following the ruling, there was a 448 per cent increase in the number of interracial marriages in Georgia alone.

In 2007, 32 years after her husband died, Mrs Loving - who herself passed away the following year - released a statement in support of same-sex marriage.

She said: 'Not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry




Click to go to Website for film


'I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.

'I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.'

Photographs of their content family life and grapple with the law were unearthed by director Nancy Buirski during the making of a documentary about the pair. Her documentary, The Loving Story, will air on February 14 on HBO.

Twenty of the prints will be exhibited at the International Center of Photography in New York City, from January 20 until May 6. They are on loan by the estate of Grey Villet and by the Loving family.

Source with a TON more pictures

More of the pictures via NYT

Even more...




I saw this story in a couple of places... consider this your Saturday night pick-me-up because ilu.

And some of the comments are not to be missed: "My African-American wife and I got married just 2 years after the Lovings, 1960, and they have always been our heroes. We were in Southern California so we didn't experience the prejudice or arrest that the Lovings did. We often did not know if we would get served when we went into a restaurant and if we did we would get stares from the other patrons... today we don't get a second glance Things have changed. We celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary in May."
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browneyedguuurl 22nd-Jan-2012 05:14 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this OP. What an amazing couple and it's great to know their love lasted a lifetime.
wldrose 22nd-Jan-2012 05:16 am (UTC)
Some of us do remember.

When I was a very little girl about 69 I asked my mum what she thought of me marrying the little boy I had a crush on when we grew up. She said it wouldnt be easy, and no parent ever wants a hard life for their child.

40 years later she blesses the fact that my partner is so wonderful, and I was lucky enough to find him. (and no not the same little boy, but we did meet in HS)
leprofessional 22nd-Jan-2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
executivehpfan 22nd-Jan-2012 05:17 am (UTC)
As someone who was raised in Texas with a white mother and a black father, this post means something very special to me. Thank you, OP.
fickery 22nd-Jan-2012 05:26 am (UTC)
I read this the other day, and I was amazed that it was posted in the Daily Mail, of all places. And most of the comments were even positive!
sephystabbity 22nd-Jan-2012 05:26 am (UTC)
This beautiful. Thank you so much for posting this.
mariechan 22nd-Jan-2012 11:43 am (UTC)
Marital rape was legal until the 1990s?! I know others would probably say not to be surprised but I am D:
wldrose 22nd-Jan-2012 05:27 am (UTC)
Dont forget this

On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision.[6]

Her statement concluded:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God's plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 'wrong kind of person' for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.
sunhawk 22nd-Jan-2012 05:28 am (UTC)
So lovely, thanks for sharing! :)
foureyedgirl 22nd-Jan-2012 05:34 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for posting OP. The Lovings' story is so beautiful and amazing to me. I can't wait to see the film.
romp 22nd-Jan-2012 05:50 am (UTC)
I've read of the case but not the people and no photos. And "there was a 448 per cent increase in the number of interracial marriages in Georgia alone" after their case. So many people had been waiting!

It's not often that we get justice and romance in one story.
the_glow_worm 22nd-Jan-2012 05:51 am (UTC)
Wow, this made me tear up a little bit.

Also congrats to you and your wife for so many happy years :)
applementha 22nd-Jan-2012 05:53 am (UTC)
As an interracial woman myself (Filipina and Italian) as well as a lesbian, this post really hits close to home. Thanks so much for posting!
spyral_path 22nd-Jan-2012 06:11 am (UTC)
This brought tears to my eyes, in a good way.
twizzler_11 22nd-Jan-2012 06:33 am (UTC)
It wrote in its decision: 'Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival.

'To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.'


Substitute 'sexual orientation' for 'racial classification' and it still rings true.

Anyway, I admire so much their courage and spirit, even with just the social pressures. I hope I can be that strong if/when my boyfriend and I get married (Indian and white).
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