It Was Once Illegal for White People and Black People to Marry Each Other in America.

Posted By Levi

June 11th, 2015 8:23pm

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Mildred and Richard Loving

Tomorrow, June 12 is known as the Loving Day. No, it’s not what you are thinking. It’s a day on which Americans celebrate the fight for racial justice.

There was a time in America, not too long ago, when it was illegal for black people and white people to marry each other. For most of our history, most states, especially those in the South banned miscegenation or inter-racial marriage.

The idea that the races should not mix is a legacy of slavery and racism.

Many whites had strong religious views against integration or the mixing of the races.  They objected to integration because they believed it would lead to interracial marriage, and they think that “race mixing” violates God’s word.

Theodore Bilbo, two time governor of Mississippi and who believed that blacks and Jews were inferior, defended the system of segregation. He wrote that the

“[p]urity of race is a gift of God . . . . And God, in his infinite wisdom, has so ordained it that when man destroys his racial purity, it can never be redeemed.” Allowing “the blood of the races [to] mix,” according to Bilbo, was a direct attack on the “Divine plan of God.” There “is every reason to believe that miscegenation and amalgamation are sins of man in direct defiance to the will of God.”

Consequently, anti-miscegenation laws were passed in many states.

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Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, fell in love but it was illegal for them to marry in Virginia where they lived. Instead, in 1958 they went to Washington DC, got married and returned to Virginia. Shortly after, the police raided the couple’s home in the middle of the night and arrested them for breaking the state’s anti-miscegenation laws.

The judge gave them a choice – one year in prison or leave Virginia and never to return for 25 years. Here’s what the judge told them, using the Bible as his reference:

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.

The couple moved to Washington, DC and immediately decided to challenge the ban on inter-racial marriage. On June 12,  1967 the United States Supreme Court ruled in their favor and struck down the ban on inter-racial marriage. In his ruling, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. … 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.

And so after a long fight, Mildred and Peter Loving won the battle for the right to marry the person they love. The ruling abolished all anti-miscegenation laws in the country.

It was not until 2000 that Alabama became the last state to officially remove an anti-miscegenation provision from its state constitution.

Forty eight years later the fight for marriage equality continues. Any day now, the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether or not gays have the right to marry.

An interesting book to read on the topic is  “Almighty God Created the Races: Christianity, Interracial Marriage, and American Law by Fay Botham.

Twitter: @Levianthony123

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