Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Off Topic: Mildred Loving: Strong Black Women

May Mildred Loving Rest In Peace:

>> From today's New York Times.com> >

In Loving v. Virginia, Warren wrote that miscegenation laws violated the Constitution's equal protection clause. "We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race," he said. By their own widely reported accounts, Mrs. Loving and her husband, Richard, were in bed in their modest house in Central Point in the early morning of July 11, 1958, five weeks after their wedding, when the county sheriff and two deputies, acting on an anonymous tip, burst into their bedroom and shined flashlights in their eyes. A threatening voice demanded, "Who is this woman you're sleeping with?" Mrs. Loving answered, "I'm his wife." Mr. Loving pointed to the couple's marriage certificate hung on the bedroom wall. The sheriff responded, "That's no good here." The certificate was from Washington, D.C., and under Virginia law, a marriage between people of different races performed outside Virginia was as invalid as one done in Virginia.

At the time, it was one of 16 states that barred marriages between races. After Mr. Loving spent a night in jail and his wife several more, the> couple pleaded guilty to violating the Virginia law, the Racial Integrity Act. Under a plea bargain, their one-year prison sentences were suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia and not return together or at the same time for 25 years. Judge Leon M. Bazile, in language Chief Justice Warren would recall, said that if God had meant for whites and blacks to mix, he would have not placed them on different continents. Judge Bazile reminded the> defendants that "as long as you live you will be known as a felon." They paid court fees of $36.29 each, moved to Washington and had three children. They returned home occasionally, never together.

But times were tough financially, and the Lovings missed family, friends and their easy country lifestyle in the rolling Virginia hills. By 1963, Mrs. Loving could stand the ostracism no longer. Inspired by the civil rights movement and its march on Washington, she wrote> Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and asked for help. He wrote her back, and referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union. The A.C.L.U. took the case. Its lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, faced an immediate problem: the Lovings had pleaded guilty and had no right to appeal. So they asked Judge Bazile to set aside his original verdict. When he refused, they appealed. The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the lower court, and the case went to the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Cohen recounted telling Mr. Loving about various legal theories applying to the case. Mr. Loving replied, "Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia."

Mildred Delores Jeter's family had lived in Caroline County, Va., for generations, as had the family of Richard Perry Loving. The area was known for friendly relations between races, even though marriages were forbidden. Many people were visibly of mixed race, with Ebony magazine reporting in 1967 that black "youngsters easily passed for white in neighboring towns." Mildred's mother was part Rappahannock Indian, and her father was part Cherokee. She preferred to think of herself as Indian rather than black.

Mildred and Richard began spending time together when he was a rugged-looking 17 and she was a skinny 11-year-old known as Bean. He attended an all-white high school for a year, and she reached 11th grade at an all-black school. When Mildred became pregnant at 18, they decided to do what was elsewhere deemed the right thing and get married. They both said their initial motive was not to challenge Virginia law.

"We have thought about other people," Mr. Loving said in an interview with Life magazine in 1966, "but we are not doing it just because somebody had to do it and we wanted to be the ones. We are doing it for us." In his classic study of segregation, "An American Dilemma," Gunnar Myrdal wrote that "the whole system of segregation and discrimination is designed to prevent eventual inbreeding of the races." But miscegenation laws struck deeper than other segregation acts, and> the theory behind them leads to chaos in other facets of law. This is because they make any affected marriage void from its inception. Thus, all children are illegitimate; spouses have no inheritance rights; and heirs cannot receive death benefits.

"When any society says that I cannot marry a certain person, that society has cut off a segment of my freedom," the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1958.

Virginia's law had been on the books since 1662, adopted a year after Maryland enacted the first such statute. At one time or another, 38 states had miscegenation laws. State and federal courts consistently upheld the prohibitions, until 1948, when the California Supreme Court overturned California's law. Though the Supreme Court's 1967 decision in the Loving case struck down miscegenation laws, Southern states were sometimes slow to change their constitutions;

Alabama became the last state to do so, in 2000. Mr. Loving died in a car accident in 1975, and the Lovings' son Donald died in 2000. In addition to her daughter, Peggy Fortune, who lives in Milford, Va., Mrs. Loving is survived by her son, Sidney, of Tappahannock, Va.; eight grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. Mrs. Loving stopped giving interviews, but last year issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the announcement of the Supreme Court ruling, urging that gay men and lesbians be allowed to marry.

*May they know that their lives and their struggle to be free and happy was an example for me to follow. Who ever you love and for what ever the reasons, finding love is the most important thing. The divorce rate doesn't change due to your race.
From Mildred Herself:
I'm surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by thatI don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me tohave 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, nomatter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom tomarry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs overothers. Especially if it 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 courtcase that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that somany people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support thefreedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
*Well spoken!
Any thoughts?


It's Me...Phylecia...Remember??? said...

Just lets you know how silly humans can be in this world. I have wondered if black women in interracial relationships have tough times dealing with the outside world. I am in one currently and fortunately, I have no negatives to face. Granted I am in Southern California and not my hometown in Alabama.

SeZ said...

I'm going on six years married and I have not gotten any more then a couple of uneeded comments from people who don't matter.

It's Me...Phylecia...Remember??? said...

Funny, on Brunsli's blog I read a comment on how it was interesting that there are a lot of women with Sisterlocks in interracial relationships. BF can point out Sisterlocks faster than I can now!

Don said...

Judge Leon M. Bazile, in language Chief Justice Warren would recall, said that if God had meant for whites and blacks to mix, he would have not placed them on different continents. wow. I am scared of America. I knew the darkness ran deep, but this is ridiculous. And whats even sadder is the fact that it was considered and enforced law.

SeZ said...

Phylecia: To tell the truth more black men love my hair more with it locked. I think that a woman who wants to be sexy as she was made is sexy to ALL man. For a non-black man being with a black woman is to appreciate her for how she is. She skin color, hair texture, ass and her mouth piece. So this could be true that woman in interracial relationships don't worry about locking their hair because they know their mate will love them even more.
Maybe and maybe not.
It is scary to think that it was just 50 years ago. It shows how deep hatred really runs and with people in positions of power to enforce hate filled laws. If we were meant to stay on one continent then God would not have given us all feet to move, walk and migrant. I like men period! If I found a good, working, progressive black man to marry prior that wanted to love me and be there. Then I would have married him and love the hell out of him. I believe that each person should be allowed to live with who ever they see fit to live with.

Naturally Sophia said...

I think it's interesting the openness the SL community expresses to interracial dating whereas I did not experience that quite as much in the traditional lock community when I had a White boyfriend, though I doubt I will have either of those things again. LOL! I welcome the open attitudes. It also makes me wonder how Many sisterlock weares are swingers, republicans, lesbians, or are open otherwise.
More power to the freedom of choice!

NappTown said...

I am still tripping on the fact that Alabama did not change their laws until 2000! I feel that a persons personal life should be left up to them. Flat out! On another note, my husband (a black man) hated my permed hair. Before I got Sisterlocks I had a TWA and he loved it. And he definately loves my Sisterlocks. I agree with you Sez a man just loves the natural sexiness of a woman. Most men do not like fake anything. My Dad used to tell my Mom (a avid weave wearer and makeup) that she just did not need all that and that she was beautiful just the way she was. And I have heard other men say the same thing.

SeZ said...

I have not been to any meetings yet but I figure if they are willing to hearing what others feel about having sisterlocs, then they are more likely to be "individuals" all around. Don't give up on all non BM men because of one bad one. Men period are something else so love could come to you in any form. I'm starting to wonder about swingers you brought up myself :-)

Napptown: I agree with you completely, being sexy as you are is KEY.

Don said...

i'm a firm believer that loves conquers all. everything under the sun, @ one point or another, can be conquered through love. people especially should put all their hang ups aside and submit to the most beautiful feeling of them all.


no matter the race, creed, or color.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.