By René White (Feather)
Lumbee Indian and Virginia Resident
On January 6, 1959, only 57 years ago, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, for their interracial marriage. Until this time, is was against the law and a felony (punishable by prison) for a White person to marry a Black or Indian person.
Actually, Indians were not called "Indians" then in Virginia. We were called Black as part of a scheme that began in 1912 to purify the white race in Virginia. This government led genocide forced Indians and other nonwhites to classify themselves as blacks or colored; and forced surgeries to remove wombs preventing the creation of Indian children for more than 34 years in Virginia. (see the Black and White World of Plecker)
The plaintiffs in the illegal marriage case were Mildred Delores Loving, a woman of African-American and Rappahannock Native American descent and Richard Perry Loving a White man both born in Caroline County, Virginia. (see photo right)
The trail judge in the case wrote:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
Frustrated by their inability to travel to visit their families in Virginia, the couple set out to protest the ruling because it ran counter to the Fourteenth Amendment.
With help from many, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Lovings' convictions in a unanimous decision on June 12, 1967. The court ruled that Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Chief Justice Earl Warren's opinion for the unanimous court held that:
Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
The court concluded that anti-miscegenation laws were racist and had been enacted to perpetuate white supremacy.
Alabama became the last state to try to enforce the state's anti-miscegenation statute until 2000, when 60% of voters endorsed a ballot initiative that removed anti-miscegenation language from the state constitution.
In 2014, Mildred Loving was honored as one of the Library of Virginia's "Virginia Women in History."
About The Gathering. One of the objectives through "The Gathering" is to help influence and affect the Standards of Learning (SOL) for Virginia Public Schools with new orals histories, literature products, rich photography for the Library of Congress and other multimedia products. The SOLs establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course about Native American Indians in: English, mathematics, science, history/social science and other subjects.