Three weeks ago, Mildred Loving, the woman called the matriarch of Interracial marriage passed away. In 1958, Mildred being an African American woman, married Richard Loving, a Caucasian male in Washington, D.C..
Not long after their wedding, Richard and Mildred were arrested in their home and charged with “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” They were sentenced to one year in prison or a 25 year exile from the state of Virginia. After agreeing to leave, Richard and Mildred Loving began a legal fight for their love. They wrote to then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. The result of this stance for their love would eventually “turn the tide”, and change the way of thinking when it comes to interracial marriages.
When all was said and done, the Supreme Court, in 1967, ruled in favor of the Loving’s. The ruling set in motion a precedent that struck down laws banning interracial marriages in at least 17 states. In a statement in 2007, Mildred Loving said, “When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, D.C., in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.”
The Loving’s story intrigued me, since my future wife Sarai and I are also an interracial couple. The Loving’s story is about two people that loved each other and wanted to get married. The only thing that creates drama in this story is that the two lovers where not of the same ethnic group. Culture dictates to men the behavior that is acceptable in a certain demographic or region. The Lovings, unfortunately, lived in a place and time when the culture believed that their love was unacceptable. What is encouraging is the fact that the Lovings, rather than believe and conform to the culture, believed in their love more than the predominant culture’s opinion. The Loving’s experienced a great triumph, and what they chose to stand up for, eventually made way for others who were yet to come.
This year, I’ll marry my fiance Sarai who is of a different nationality than myself and we will not have to be punished for our decision. It is weird to think that only 45 years ago getting married to the woman I love would have gotten me jail time. Thank God for men and women who stand when everyone else sits, and speak when everyone else remains silent. Richard & Mildred Loving fought a battle for their love, not knowing they were fighting for everyone yet to come. Let’s ask ourselves some questions today that are important:
- Am I standing for anything?
- Who will benefit from the decisions that I’m making in my life?
- What am I standing for today that will pave the way for others to follow tomorrow?
Just as Richard and Mildred Loving chose to love each other regardless of the culture’s opinion, we must choose to be difference makers. It is choice, not chance, that shapes destiny.