This week we bring you a letter from the UCLA Mixed Alumni Association’s Vice President, Leiauna Anderson '96, who shares a little history of Loving Day (June 12) and opportunities to learn more about the multi-racial/ethnic community.
If you were like me when you first heard the phrase “Loving Day” you may have assumed it was a day set aside for loving your loved ones. The day occurred in the month of June and everyone knows that’s the unofficial month of love and weddings after all. Despite being a mixed race woman who was born in the early 1970s, I had never heard of the story of the Lovings. Richard Perry Loving, a white 17-year-old teen, was a family friend of Mildred Delores Jeter, a Black and Native American 11-year-old girl. Years later they began dating and, when Mildred became pregnant, they married in 1958 in Washington, D.C., where interracial marriage was legal. Being from Virginia, where their union was not only frowned upon, but illegal, they would sneak into the state to visit family in the rural countryside.
Immediately after getting married, the couple naively returned to Virginia, not realizing they were breaking the law by returning to their home state as a married interracial couple. Just a few short weeks after returning, the couple was startled in the middle of the night when local police stormed into their home and arrested them for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made interracial marriage illegal. Anti-miscegenation laws had been a part of the American landscape since colonial times. A Virginia court convicted and sentenced them to a year in jail but allowed them to avoid incarceration by leaving Virginia and vowing to not return to the state together as a couple for 25 years. The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C. but missed their families and their beloved rural Virginia. Feeling homesick, Mildred took matters into her own hands and wrote a letter that would change history forever.
As a young person I knew that interracial couples and marriages were frowned upon and had been illegal in some places long before my birth and that laws and some views had changed since the 1980s. What I didn’t realize was that a trailblazing couple fought the law and emerged triumphant. In 1963, Mildred wrote a letter to then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy and he referred the couple to the American Civil Liberties Union. The Lovings were eventually represented by young attorneys Bernard S. Cohen and Philip H. Hirschkop. They argued the case for years pro bono and it was eventually heard before the United States Supreme Court in 1967. Their landmark case, Loving v. Virginia, was one of the inflection points of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down miscegenation laws across the United States was on June 12, 1967.
Inspired by Juneteenth, Loving Day grew out of a 2004 senior thesis idea by Ken Tanabe, a student at Parsons New School of Design. Ever since, people in the United States and around the world come together on June 12 to celebrate, share and rejoice in the cultural richness and beauty of the blending of races, ethnicities, nationalities and families. All across our city, state and country, there are so many amazing opportunities to join in the celebration. The legacy of Mildred and Richard’s fight for love lives on.
— Leiauna Anderson, '96
Participate Loving Then, Loving Now and Loving Tomorrow. Join Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC) co-founder Nancy Brown, M.S.N. '80, and advisory board member Faye Mandell '74 for a virtual event to commemorate Loving Day on Sunday, June 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (PDT). They will be joined by multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, BIPOC and ally celebrities, experts, professionals, musicians and creatives showcasing their work.
Book recommendations to learn more about the landmark court case curated by Leiauna Anderson '96:
1. "Tell the Court I Love My Wife: Race, Marriage, and Law - An American History" by Peter Wallenstein (2004)
2. "Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving" by Phil Newbeck (2008)
3. "Race, Sex, and the Freedom to Marry: Loving v. Virginia" by Peter Wallenstein (2014)
4. "What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America" by Peggy Pascoe (2008)
5. "Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case" by Patricia Hruby Powell and Shadra Strickland (2017) (Young Adult Non-Fiction)