The 1967 Loving V. Virginia Supreme Court case was historic, making bans on interracial marriage illegal to enforce. It succeeded in allowing heterosexual couples of different races to legalize their unions together. The landmark case came about because of a real life couple, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving. In 1958, Jeter and Loving were in love and wanting to wed, but in the state of Virginia, interracial marriage was illegal. Jeter was black, and Loving was white. They drove to Washington D.C., where there were no laws forbidding them to marry, got married, and returned to Virginia. However, the law also forbade interracial couples from getting married in a different state and then returning to Virginia. Consequently, the couple was arrested shortly after their marriage.
To avoid a one to three year jail sentence, the Lovings were given the choice to leave Virginia for a period of 25 years, which they did, moving to Washington D.C. Though they avoided jail, the Lovings were separated from their families in Virginia, struggling in the face of discrimination in Washington D.C. due to their relationship and finding it difficult to support their children.
In hopes their plight would be heard, Mildred sent a letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, which was forward to the American Civil Liberties Union in New York. Two lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, agreed to work on their case pro bono. Facing defeat at every level, the Loving case eventually made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the unanimous decision was made in the favor of the couple. The Lovings finally won the right and the freedom to love each other and have it recognized by law, regardless of their race. June 12th now marks the widely celebrated holiday, Loving Day, which celebrates interracial marriages everywhere and remembers Mildred and Richard Loving’s victory.