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June 12, 2020 | 2:14pm
Fifty-three years ago Friday, the Supreme Court struck down 16 state bans on interracial marriage, paving the way for black and white couples to get married in the aftermath of the vicious Jim Crow era.
June 12 is now known as Loving Day — which is a play on the name that is last of plaintiffs in the landmark case — and has become a celebration of a decision that would forever change matrimony in America.
The story behind Loving Day is detailed in author Peter Wallenstein’s book, “Race, Sex, and the Freedom to Marry: Loving v. Virginia,” said USA Today, which added that the story was later depicted in a 2016 movie and 2011 documentary.
It all began in 1958 when Mildred Loving got pregnant and traveled with her husband that is soon-to-be Richard to Washington D.C. to get married, Wallenstein said.
Soon for breaking a law against interracial couples after they returned to their home in Caroline County, Virginia, they were roused in the middle of the night by cops who arrested them.
The Loving couple was thrown in jail on “unlawful cohabitation” charges and were given two options — they could either stay in jail, or leave the continuing state for 25 years.
The Loving’s chose to leave, but they didn’t give up without a fight.
Mildred petitioned then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who told her to enlist the American Civil Liberties Union for help.
The ACLU took the case and brought it all the way to the Supreme Court where all sitting justices ruled the case should be overturned on 12, 1967 june.
Over 30 years after the Loving v. Virginia landmark ruling, designer Ken Tanabe made it the subject of his graduate thesis project at Parsons School of Design, which eventually grew into Loving Day.
Tanabe said the holiday is now celebrated around the world and told USA Today the name isn’t “just a reference to a real couple who fought racial injustices.”
“It also represents the love that we give to each other,” Tanabe said.
Typically, volunteers coordinate a flagship event in New York City but in 2020, at the height of Black Lives Matter movement, Tanabe said the day should be celebrated with “a meaningful pause” in honor of the modern fight for racial justice.
“We’ve been folks that are asking continue that tradition of observing Loving Day in meaningful and personal ways but also by joining us in coming together in support of black lives and justice,” Tanabe told the outlet.
Amid nationwide protests against racism and police brutality after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, Wallenstein said the Loving case epitomizes “the toxic residue of Jim Crow” and how it “continues to make its way down the streets and into people’s lives.”
“It really is quite remarkable how much can change,” Wallenstein said.
“And it’s just as remarkable how little does.”