Today is Loving Day!
I never tire of reading about the wonderfully compelling love story of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, who in June of 1958 decided to buck the tide of ignorance and racism and pursue their American dream – which was to spend their lives living and loving each other in holy (and legal) matrimony.
They had to go to Washington, DC for the ceremony but were arrested in their own bedroom in the middle of the night by sheriff’s deputies for the “crime” of interracial marriage.
The Lovings were prosecuted by the state and sentenced to a year in prison for their “crime” but allowed to leave Virginia in exile.
For five years they lived in exile, separated from their families and banished from the home state they loved. The Lovings finally grew tired of the fact that they couldn’t live as a married couple in any state they wanted to live.
They decided to fight back and in June of 1967, nine years to the month they were married, they eventually won the right to live and live in marital bliss anywhere in the United States because of the decision rendered in a landmark Supreme Court case.
These days, turning on the evening news is almost a sure-fire way to remain painfully aware of the fact that racism – whether inherent, overt or covert, real or imagined, never seems to be far from the surface.
I’m grateful for the advances that have been made, yet I’m mindful of the fact that 1967 is merely 48 years ago.
The Loving’s story had a bittersweet ending. In 1975, 17 years after their marriage, Mildred Loving lost her husband Richard in a tragic car accident. Mildred died in 2008 but she never remarried.
In a statement issued on the 4oth anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision (June 12, 2007 – the year before she died) she declared:
“ . . . 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 thank God for Richard and Mildred Loving, and for them having a love for one another that transcended the climate and laws of their day.
Richard and Mildred, today we celebrate you – and we celebrate love.
Happy Loving Day!
Today’s featured couple, Tom and Alida Sharp, live in Belize. Alida says they met in high school when Tom “shoved an Oreo® cookie in her mouth!”
They have been married for almost 33 years.
To listen to the story of that Oreo cookie, click here. To learn more about their life in Belize, click here.
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