Civil Rights: Loving v. Virginia

By global gathering Updated at 2020-06-13 02:42:21 +0000

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Happy Loving Day!

The US Supreme Court struck down laws that banned interracial marriages in 16 states 53 years ago. The case that resulted in this decision was brought to the court by Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were jailed in Virginia and told to leave the state for being married. The case became known as Loving vs. Virginia, and on June 12, 1967, Chief Justice Early Warren issued an unanimous decision making marriages like the Lovings' legal across the US.

Here’s The History Behind ‘Loving,’ A Film About A Major Civil Rights Victory

The movie celebrates the love story at the center of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that ended racial discrimination for marriage.

“Loving” — A film from writer-director Jeff Nichols, tells the story of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case that overturned state bans on interracial marriage.

Instead of dramatic courtroom scenes or thunderous monologues, the film focuses on the couple at the center of the case, Richard and Mildred Loving, depicting the impact of their prolonged legal battle on their daily lives and celebrating their love story and unwavering resolve.

In 1958, Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a black woman, drove north from their home in Virginia to Washington, D.C., to get married. Upon returning to Virginia, they were dragged out of bed and arrested by the police. The Lovings’ marriage was not legally valid due to the state’s law barring interracial marriage. The ensuing legal battle upended the lives of the Lovings and their three children for almost a decade.

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Mildred and Richard Loving on Jan. 9, 1965 (Image Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS).


The film is beautiful in its restraint, anchored by tender moments in the couple’s life. Actors Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga bring a quiet intensity to their magnificent performances as Richard and Mildred. But by grounding itself in their love story, the film somewhat understates the significance of the Lovings’ case. Loving v. Virginia was and remains an important political and historical landmark, knocking down a major pillar of Jim Crow segregation and, more recently, serving as precedent in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage.

In one fell swoop, the court’s 1967 ruling, which concluded that Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, invalidated all state laws that banned interracial marriage.

These anti-miscegenation laws, as they were known, represented one of the last existing formal mechanisms for segregation, according to Virginia Tech historian Peter Wallenstein, who has written two books on the Loving case. While many states that once had such laws had repealed them by the 1960s, interracial marriage bans remained on the books in almost the entire South, even after Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the wave of civil rights legislation in the 1960s addressed most of the major Jim Crow laws that imposed segregation.

“The ‘64 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of ‘65 really had taken out all the formal support systems for Jim Crow segregation,” Wallenstein told the Huffington Post. “The one remaining pillar in that whole edifice ? for decades, generations, centuries ? the one remaining one was marriage. That was the last to go, and it is, of course, three years after the Civil Rights Act.”

As the film shows, the civil rights movement was what catalyzed Mildred Loving to seek legal action. She wrote to then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who referred to her to the American Civil Liberties Union. Two of the organization’s lawyers ultimately took on the case and represented the Lovings before the high court.


If the Lovings hadn’t come along, if Mrs. Loving hadn’t written that letter and then followed up, then we wouldn’t have a story to be talking about.

Peter Wallenstein, Virginia Tech historian

Wallenstein noted that the fundamental nature of marriage may have been a major reason why it was one of the last remaining areas of formal segregation.

“The bottom line is simply this: if white supremacy mandates maintaining a system that never accepts the prospect of blacks and whites meeting together on terms of equality, if ever there was a place where you might find just that, is marriage and the family,” he said.

Indeed, one of the arguments that the state of Virginia made in justifying the ban on interracial marriage involved labeling mixed-race children as “bastards” and portraying them as harmful to society.

In its unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court determined that marriage is “fundamental to our very existence and survival.” Under the 14th Amendment, “the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations,” Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the opinion. “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.”

Beyond marriage, the Loving case also had important legal ramifications for property and child custody cases involving interracial couples, Wallenstein noted.

Over the last two decades, the historic ruling has taken on a new resonance, as many courts applied it to same-sex marriage cases. In rulings in favor of LGBTQ couples, judges used the same broad language and reasoning of the Loving case, and the phrase “freedom to marry” became a rallying call for gay marriage activists.

In last year’s Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case which invalidated state bans on gay marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy cited Loving v. Virginia several times in his majority opinion, noting that the case had established an “abiding connection between marriage and liberty.”

But even without the historical context, the film works effectively as a character study of the Lovings, allowing viewers to become intimately acquainted with them. Featuring warm scenes of their family life and devotion to one another, the film is deeply reverential toward the Lovings. As several suspenseful scenes portray, they lived in constant fear of prosecution in their home state, where it was a felony for two people of different races to live together.

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Ruth Negga as Mildred Loving


“The love story is framed by this horror show,” Wallenstein said. “So on the one hand, it’s just beautiful. On the other hand, it’s just horrific. And the focus here is how one threatens the other.”

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Joel Edgerton as Richard Loving


While they largely shied away from the spotlight, the Lovings came to understand the high stakes of their fight, particularly Mildred, who was more enterprising and outpoken than the taciturn Richard.

“This is a case that was not foreordained. If the Lovings hadn’t come along, if Mrs. Loving hadn’t written that letter and then followed up, then we wouldn’t have a story to be talking about,” Wallenstein said. “Somewhere, sometime, something like it would have happened, but it couldn’t have been then. It had to have been later.”

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Richard and Mildred Loving laughing and watching television in their living room, King and Queen County, Va.


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Jeff Nichols (right) attends an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screening of Loving with stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga.
| Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


This story was originally published by the The Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Black Lives Matter - The Moment to Change the World Is Right Now

LONDON (AP) — Just like coronavirus, racism pays no attention to borders.

Across the world, people representing a broad spectrum of society have marched as one to protest racial injustice and police brutality at home and abroad.

Despite the risks posed by possibly the biggest public health hazard in a century, they still put their marching boots on and geared up for a long day of chanting.

They sought not just to show solidarity with protesters across the United States following the shocking police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis but also to shine a spotlight on the inequalities that scar their own nations. On May 25, Floyd, a black man, died handcuffed on the ground saying “I can’t breathe” as a white policeman pushed his knee to his neck.

In Australia, tens of thousands highlighted the country’s long mistreatment of Aboriginal people, notably of David Dungay, who died in a prison hospital in 2015 while being restrained by five guards.

“Same story, different soil,” read one banner. 

In Britain, the world’s melting pot due to its imperial past, many demonstrators clearly saw parallels between what happened with Floyd and their experiences with British police and authorities. In the 1600s and 1700s, several British port cities grew wealthy transporting slaves to the Americas. On Sunday in Bristol, southwest England, protesters tore down a statute of a slave trader whose company used to brand its victims with the company’s initials on their chests. 

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Protestors gather at Town Hall in Sydney, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to support the cause of U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

In the last decade, the British government has been called out for its appalling treatment of British Caribbean citizens who came north to rebuild the country after World War II. In the last few months, despite having a National Health Service that is free for all, people from minority groups in Britain face a higher risk of dying from coronavirus than their white counterparts.
“There’s a lot of frustration due to racial discrimination. And we want change for our children and our children’s children, to be able to have equality within the U.K, the U.S., all around the world,” said Andrew Francis, a 37-year-old black man from London.

Across France, people defied police protest bans due to coronavirus concerns to express the depth of their convictions.

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Hundreds of demonstrators gather on the Champs de Mars as the Eiffel Tower is seen in the background during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, U.S.A., after being restrained by police officers on May 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Among the crowds Saturday in Paris was Marie Djedje, 14, whose birthday is July 14, the day France commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution. 

One of the revolution’s rallying cries was “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” — freedom, equality, fraternity. But the French motto now inscribed on town halls and schools across the land rings hollow to people of color who feel like they’re treated as second-class citizens in France.

“I was born French, on the day when we celebrate our country. But on a daily basis, I don’t feel that this country accepts me,” Marie said, holding up a sign that read “Being black is not a crime.”

The personal stories behind those attending protests around the world are varied and nuanced but the message is the same.

“It’s quite unfortunate, you know, in this current 21st century that people of color are being treated as if they are lepers,” Abdul Nassir, a 26-year-old Ghanaian studying in Rome, said during Sunday’s demonstration in the Italian capital.

The protesters share the same hope: that amid this pandemic — as the world’s social and economic structures are being turned upside down — leaders, governments and all facets of society can find the will to reorder the world in a more just and equal manner. 

There should be no borders in that aspiration.

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An Aboriginal man performs a smoking ceremony as protesters gather in Sydney, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to support the movement of U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

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People gather to protest during a solidarity rally for the death of George Floyd Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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A mural by street artist Jorit, honoring George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis, USA, depicts from left, Lenin, Martin Luther King, George Floyd, Malcom X and Angela Davis, atop the roof of a building in Naples, southern Italy, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (Alessandro Pone/LaPresse via AP)

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People gather during a demonstration in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, June 6, 2020 calling for justice for George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (Boris Roessler/dpa via AP)

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A girl wears a face mask during a Black Lives Matter rally in Parliament Square, in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as they protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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A demonstrator clenches his fist during a Black Lives Matter rally in Parliament Square in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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People pose next to an artwork by French artist Dugudus depicting U.S. President Donald Trump as a police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd while holding a bible, in Paris, France, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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A woman gestures after climbing on the Abraham Lincon statue in Parliament Square during a Black Lives Matter rally in Parliament Square in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

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A young woman wears a facemark as people gather at the Alexander Platz in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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People demonstrate in Lyon, central France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

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A man raises his fist as people gather in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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Thousands of people demonstrate in Cologne, Germany, Saturday June 6, 2020, to protest against racism and the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

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Protesters hold placards as they attend a demonstration organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, in Gothenburg, Sweden, Sunday, June 7, 2020. in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (Adam Ihse/TT News Agency via AP)

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Demonstrators throw objects at charging mounted police at Downing Street during a Black Lives Matter march in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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Demonstrators kneel facing police officers after scuffles during a Black Lives Matter march in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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A woman takes a picture during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, when protesting against the recent killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, U.S.A., after being restrained by police officers on May 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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A protester holds a sign that reads "kill, it is being filmed" in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the death of George Floyd, who died after he was restrained by police officers May 25 in Minneapolis, that has led to global protests. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

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Anti-racism demonstrators take a knee near Toronto Police Headquarters during a march on Saturday, June 6, 2020, protesting the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

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People gather in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, June 7, 2020, during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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People gather calling for justice for George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis, USA, in Rome's People's Square, Sunday, June 7, 2020. (Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse via AP)

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A Protester holds a white rose as he stands among placards during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in Brussels, Sunday, June 7, 2020. The demonstration was held in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

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A protester stands in front of the US embassy during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in London, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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A protester holds a placard in front of the US embassy, during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in London, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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A protester holds a placard at the window of Foreign and Commonwealth Office building during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in London, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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Protesters throw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour, during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in Bristol, England, Sunday June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

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Protesters call to calm down rioters during clashes between police and small groups of rioters after a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Brussels, Sunday, June 7, 2020. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

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Police clash with protesters during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Westminster, London, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

___

John Leicester in Paris and Frances D’Emilio in Rome contributed to this report.

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