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Mixed-Race Couple Arrested in the Middle of the Night for Being Married: A Love That Made History

Busayo Ogunjimi
Apr 11, 2022
01:00 P.M.
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The love story of Richard and Mildred Loving was one that ended up benefiting interracial couples that came after them because it wiped away the last bit of segregation inspired by racism. 

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Love is a powerful emotion, and over the past couple of centuries, it has driven both men and women alike to do things they would never have done otherwise — for instance, standing up to a state's judicial system. 

Still, that's what Richard and Mildred Loving did when they ran into trouble for getting married. This is their story. 

A picture of Richard and Mildred Loving | Source: Getty Images

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ARRESTED FOR GETTING MARRIED

Richard and Mildred met each other very early in their lives, at ages 17 and 11, respectively; however, nothing happened between them for years. 

They grew up some miles apart from one another in a relatively interracial community where the white people mixed with black people, working and sometimes dating. 

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The relationship between Richard and Mildred began with courtship, and after a few years of dating that led to pregnancy, they decided to get married. 

For that, Richard and Mildred drove to Washington D.C., where interracial weddings were legal, and there they tied the knot. 

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After the wedding, the two newlyweds returned to live in the state of Virginia, even though they knew there was a ban on interracial marriages. 

The marriage took place on July 11, 1958, and they enjoyed some weeks of wedded bliss before they were suddenly apprehended by the County Sheriff and his two deputies in the early morning hours. 

According to them, they had received an anonymous tip, and when Mildred let them know they were married, the Sheriff allegedly told her: "That's no good here." 

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Richard spent a day in jail before he was released on a thousand-dollar bail arranged by his sister. But Mildred remained behind bars for three days and was denied bail before getting released to her father. 

The couple was found guilty of going against the laws set down by the state's Racial Integrity Act. At the hearing, they reportedly had to listen to a judge tell them that if God wanted white and black people to mix, he would have put them on the same continent. 

After the hearing, they left Virginia because of the judge's generosity and moved to Washington to set down roots and raise their kids: Donald, Peggy, and Sidney. 

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THEY TURNED TO ROBERT F. KENNEDY FOR HELP

Even though Washington allowed interracial weddings, the nation's capital was still brimming with people who discriminated against couples like the Lovings. 

With nowhere else to run, Mildred wrote to Robert F. Kennedy, the then-Attorney General of the United States. He helped get the letter to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which linked the couple with lawyers willing to take up the case.

The lawyers tried their best, but they were denied at every stage until they reached the United States Supreme Court. There, they drew the battle lines in what is now known as Loving v. Virginia, and fortunately for them, the Supreme Court unanimously voted in their favor. 

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The court also declared that Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

This led to denouncing all the anti-miscegenation laws some states had active. The decision was made on June 12, 1967, almost ten years after their wedding, and till today, mixed couples still celebrate the win, having dubbed the day "Loving Day."

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