RICHMOND, Va. — The couple whose love and commitment to each other helped end Virginia’s law banning interracial marriage was honored Monday with a state historical marker.
The historical marker, paid for with money from a federal transportation grant, was unveiled outside of the Patrick Henry Building at 1111 E. Broad Street.
The marker tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Caroline County couple who were arrested in July 1958 for violating Virginia’s laws against interracial marriage.
The couple was sentenced to a year in jail, with the sentence suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia.
After a long legal battle, the US Supreme Court overturned all state laws restricting marriage on the basis of race.
Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on June 12, 1967.
“I am honored to unveil this historical marker memorializing the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case and Mildred and Richard Loving’s courageous struggle to fight for what they knew was right,” said Governor McAuliffe.
At the unveiling, Floyd Thomas, who is a Caroline County supervisor, talked about how he knew Mildred Loving.
“I said Mrs. Loving how did you do that? And she looked up at me big face and all and she said ‘I just want to get married’ that was her whole motivation,” he said.
Monday’s ceremony also had a very special meaning for interracial couples in the Commonwealth. Matt Fritzinger, who is in an interracial marriage, said the ceremony was a special way to honor the Lovings and hopefully a lesson for future generations.
“It gives me hope for my daughter who is biracial so that when she goes to fall in love and marry somebody maybe she won’t get the whispers and looks my wife and I get, and she won’t get the condemnation the Lovings got,” he said.
Text of marker:
Loving v. Virginia
Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter, defined under Virginia’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act as an interracial couple, married in June 1958 in Washington, D.C., and returned home to Caroline County. Arrested in July for violating Virginia’s laws against interracial marriage, the Lovings were convicted and sentenced to one year in jail, suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia. In 1963 they obtained help from the American Civil Liberties Union, which unsuccessfully sought to reverse their convictions in the state courts of Virginia and then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, in the case Loving v. Virginia (1967), overturned all state laws restricting marriage on the basis of race.