Loving Day originated with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The case was brought by Mildred Loving (née Jeter), a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who first met when she was 11 and he was 17. He was a family friend and over the years they courted. After she became pregnant, they married in Washington, D.C., in 1958, when she was 18. Reportedly, Mildred did not realize that interracial marriage was illegal, and they were arrested a few weeks after they returned to their hometown north of Richmond, Virginia. They pleaded guilty to charges of "cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth", and avoided jail time by leaving Virginia and agreeing not to return to the state for 25 years.
The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C., and began legal action by writing to U.S. Attorney GeneralRobert F. Kennedy. Kennedy referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. After the Warren Court unanimously ruled in favor of the young couple, they returned to Virginia, where they lived with their three children. In 1975, Richard Loving died in a car accident. Mildred Loving died May 5, 2008, at the age of 68. Each June 12, the anniversary of the ruling, Loving Day events around the country mark the advances of mixed-race couples.
Many organizations sponsor annual parties across the country, with Lovingday.org providing an online legal map, courtroom history of anti-miscegenation laws, as well as offering testimonials by and resources for interracial couples. Inspired by Juneteenth (which commemorates the end of slavery in the state of Texas), Loving Day seeks both to commemorate and celebrate the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling, keeping its importance fresh in the minds of a generation which has grown up with interracial relationships being legal, as well as explore issues facing couples currently in interracial relationships. The Loving Day website features information, including court transcripts of the Loving v. Virginia case and of other court cases in which the legality of anti-miscegenation laws was challenged. To celebrate the holiday, people are encouraged to hold parties in which the case and its modern-day legacy are discussed, in smaller settings such as living rooms, backyards, etc., as well as in larger gatherings. Ken Tanabe is cred with forming the idea for Loving Day. He created the idea in 2004 for his senior thesis at Parsons the New School of Design.
In popular culture
A documentary, The Loving Story, which features rare contemporaneous photographs of the couple and details the history of the case and references Loving Day, premiered on HBO on Valentine's Day 2012.
New York Times best-selling author Heidi W. Durrow co-organized the second-largest celebration of Loving Day in the country with Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, during the annual Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival.
^Earl Warren (June 12, 1967). "LOVING v. VIRGINIA". Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2016. On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced to one year in jail; however, the trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years ... After their convictions, the Lovings took up residence in the District of Columbia.