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."
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)
terribilita 24th-Jan-2012 06:55 am (UTC)
Aww. I'm glad you found him. <3
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.
erunamiryene 22nd-Jan-2012 05:27 am (UTC)
I think of this case every time some dumbass Republican bawwwwwwwws on about "traditional marriage". I love the pictures. And this quote:

'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.'

I also saw this today:
traditional marriage

Edited at 2012-01-22 05:27 am (UTC)
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:
missmurchison 22nd-Jan-2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'm in my fifties, and I remember this as a huge discussion. You'd be amazed how many people said it was impossible for a man to rape his wife.

Of course, I also remember want ads for "man wanted" or "woman wanted" and people complaining they couldn't specify they wanted a "waitress" any more. Still, people would talk about hiring a "girl" for certain jobs, meaning a woman of any age, and other jobs were naturally assumed to go to men. There was a lot of bitterness that women would dare to insist on equal pay for equal work. After all, men had families to raise and women only needed pin money.
mariechan 22nd-Jan-2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it was a time I wasn't really alive for since I'm just in my 20s now. It's one of those things where I feel like we came some way but we still have a ways to go. I know plenty of people who look back and act like the advances we made are good enough because it was much worse maybe 15 or 20 years ago.

That's still very surprising and I can't imagine the frustration having to grow up in a time like that. My hat's off to you, Miss Murchison.
missmurchison 22nd-Jan-2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
I had the advantage of growing up as people were starting to change things. But when my aunt was being beaten by her husband, no one even thought of calling the cops. In those days, she was considered lucky to have a father and brothers who beat up her husband in turn and promised him worse if he touched her again.

I look back at how much worse it was to show that we can and will do more. When my kids talk about how ridiculous it is that we don't have equal marriage nationwide already, I remind them that when I was their age the idea was so bizarre it wasn't even discussed. The right wing crazies had to hold out the specter of men and women using the same bathrooms as the worst thing that could happen if the Equal Rights Amendment passed.

We never got the ERA nationally, but we did get it here in Iowa, and it was one of the reasons the state Supreme Court was able to legalize gay marriage here. So I remind my kids that they marched (even toddled) in local parades dressed as suffragists followed by adults holding signs stating equality is a family value. (Yes, I used my kids, but I didn't think passing out candy on St. Patrick's Day had any potential to be emotionally scarring.) So they helped get us this far and, knowing them, they'll help get us the rest of the way.
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.
fenris_lorsrai 22nd-Jan-2012 05:50 am (UTC)
Then ran this whole piece on the front page of our paper day they legalized same sex marriage in CT, next to a couple that was getting married after 30+ years together.

It was super sweet.
alldayprayer 22nd-Jan-2012 10:41 am (UTC)
That quote is amazing. I wish everyone could hold this view
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 :)
anamatics 22nd-Jan-2012 05:52 am (UTC)
These photographs are completely and utterly beautiful. What a lovely family.
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).
angry_chick 22nd-Jan-2012 07:22 am (UTC)
http://i.imgur.com/ccsOy.jpg

This hit me on a personal level. That above link is myself and my boyfriend on New Years. It's freaky to know that he and I would have been illegal just a few decades ago. I thank these two, every day, for changing laws that would have barred relationships like mine and many others, and now it's time for us to push the fight on for Gay marriage.
hola_meg_a_cola 22nd-Jan-2012 08:13 am (UTC)
You and your boyfriend are precious :3
bleed_peroxide 22nd-Jan-2012 12:08 pm (UTC)
You guys look adorable together. ♥ Both of you have such sweet smiles.
leprofessional 22nd-Jan-2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
aw teehee <3
stevie_jane 22nd-Jan-2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
So cute, seriously.
sufjanisrad 22nd-Jan-2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
oh my gosh, you guys are adorable :-) ♥
romp 22nd-Jan-2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
sweet! can you imagine facing jail time for being with the person you love?!
angry_chick 23rd-Jan-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
Hell no. I'd freak out. And there are no prisons out there for couples (to borrow a line from Sympathy for Lady Vengeance).

To everyone else - thank you.
rex_dart 22nd-Jan-2012 07:24 am (UTC)
Beautiful photos, such a beautiful quote from Mrs. Loving. What an incredible woman.
kyra_neko_rei 22nd-Jan-2012 07:52 am (UTC)
As a random aside, how awesome is it that their name is Loving?
angry_chick 22nd-Jan-2012 07:57 am (UTC)
I know, right?
bleed_peroxide 22nd-Jan-2012 12:09 pm (UTC)
It's like they were meant to be known for their love. :3 How beautiful of a legacy is that? ♥
kittymink 22nd-Jan-2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
GETS ME EVERY TIME. <3
simplefaith08 22nd-Jan-2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
Ahahahah, pretty damn awesome <3
dangerousdame 22nd-Jan-2012 08:00 am (UTC)
Such a beautiful, wonderful couple.
baka_tenshi 22nd-Jan-2012 08:49 am (UTC)
i remember i heard about this story only in passing in history class in high school but reading it here really hits me harder. especially since i'm a hispanic woman who's in love with a chinese man and vice versa.

i really hope she and richard are together again and are more free than ever. ♥
mercaque 22nd-Jan-2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
That comment you quoted ;___;
danceprincess20 22nd-Jan-2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
This is a great post. I've learned the legal aspect of this case in my law classes but I've never seen pictures of the couple or really read about them personally. Thanks for sharing it!
angelmaye 22nd-Jan-2012 05:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this!

I admit, I often get frustrated and angry by the things I read in this community. This makes it just a little bit better!
angry_chick 22nd-Jan-2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I went to sleep on a happy note yesterday.
abee 22nd-Jan-2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
Wow, if it wasn't for this change, I wouldn't be born.
stevie_jane 22nd-Jan-2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
I got all teary NEGL.

I don't know how people can look at a couple (and their bbs) and say 'you can't be married' and not hate themselves for the injustice of it. They're amazing for fighting for their rights but it's horrific they ever had to in the first place, you know?
tabaqui 22nd-Jan-2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
That whole speech in the trailer, about how 'god made the races separate' and how only man's muddling around had change that..... So is he basically saying that men should have stayed where they were born, and Columbus never should have come across the ocean to America? I mean - that's mingling the races!! No wars, no armies, no Crusaders marching around the Middle East....

I think he didn't think that through much.

And this line:Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival.

To me, that's always been proof-positive that same-sex marriage should be legal.

Lovely post and quotes, pictures, sentiments. I hope i get the chance to see this movie.
kittymink 22nd-Jan-2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
<3
beijing_saigon 23rd-Jan-2012 12:44 am (UTC)
this made me cry.

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. And this touched me in such a special way since we in Finland might get our first (openly) gay president in about two weeks :')
snapesgirl34 23rd-Jan-2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
My mom was 14 when this happened. I guess it wasn't that long ago that my parent's marriage would've been illegal.


I love the picture of them on the porch where he's checking out his wife and she's all bashful. Awwwwww.
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