The Bad Not-So-Old Days

by baldilocks

The 50th anniversary of Loving vs. Virginia is coming up. Yes, the link is from the New York Times, but it’s worth a read.

Monday will be 50 years since the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Loving vs. Virginia, the landmark case that wiped laws banning interracial marriage off the books in Virginia and 15 other states. Thus did Mildred Loving, both black and Native American, and her husband, Richard, who was white, make civil rights history. (…)

The Lovings were arrested in July 1958, when the local sheriff burst into their bedroom in the middle of the night, demanding to know what they were doing together. They had married in the District of Columbia, but their union was illegal in Virginia. A county judge offered a deal: They could avoid prison if they promised to leave Virginia and not return for 25 years.

They moved to Washington, but a longing for home upended the agreement. Mildred, missing her family, wrote a letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. He referred the matter to the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the constitutionality of Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law. Yet the Lovings — Richard died in 1975, and Mildred in 2008 — were reluctant civil rights icons.

“It was thrown in my lap,” Mrs. Loving told a Times reporter in 1992. “What choice did I have?”

Indeed. Love is what it is. Hard to imagine going to prison for such a thing, but I’m glad I was born when I was born.

If I knew who did this, I’d cite it. Such brilliance should be credited.

My own family is multiracial, multiethnic, and multinational. It’s difficult to imagine having it any other way. Of course, America has always been all those things, but now, of course, we’re far less hypocritical about it.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on

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