I was away teaching and enjoying the Pepperdine Bible Lectures last week, so I am remiss that I missed a special occasion. Last Friday, Mildred Loving, 68, passed away. Mildred Loving, born Mildred Jeter, began dating her husband, Richard Loving, when she was just 11 years old and Richard was 17. In the early years of their marriage, Mildred and Richard were arrested several times together. The reason? Mildred was black and Richard was white. And in 1958 it was illegal for them to be married in the state of Virginia. Apparently, Virginia has not always been for lovers.
Threatened with years of imprisonment, the Loving’s changed history when they challenged the Constitutionality of Virginia’s marriage laws and in 1967 won the day when the Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. From that day forward, every state, including those in the south which had laws forbidding it, were required to recognize interracial marriage.
Mildred has lived a quiet life since Richard’s death in a car wreck in 1975. Not one for the spotlight, Mildred said of her life, “I never wanted to be a hero, just a bride. It wasn’t my doing, it was God’s work.”
Each June 12th, couples across America celebrate “Loving Day” which celebrates the legalization of interracial marriage.
So for marriages like mine and kids with mocha colored skin and long, curly hair I say to Mildred and Richard, “Thank you for Loving.”