Mildred Jeter was of African American and Native American descent, and Richard Loving was a white man. They fell in love and eventually married in Washington D. C. in June 1958.
Married in Washington, D C
Capital of this land so free
They returned to their home state
Where a vicious law lay in wait
The Sheriff broke into their house
And charged them as each other’s spouse
He would not listen to their cries
And enforced a law based on lies.
They were taken away to jail
Their claims of ignorance were of no avail
The sentence pronounced met their fears
It imposed jail time of five long years.
They were told to divorce and live in sin
As though their love had never been
They refused and moved away
Apart from family and friends they were forced to stay
Then, they tried a last resort
And appealed their sentence to the court
Nine years after their marriage began
It was upheld by the highest court in the land.
Let us affirm as one and all that no sane state
Has the right to pass laws enacting hate.
Richard and Mildred deserve their due
For holding fast to a love so true.
Let us learn what their fight taught
Let those who love marry as they ought.
On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision.
“My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially when this denies people’s civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”
Richard Loving was killed by a drunk driver in 1975; Mildred Loving died of pneumonia in 2008. May they rest in peace.
© 2012, Larry Conley. All rights reserved.