When Mildred and Richard Loving married in Washington, D.C. in 1958, they didn’t think they were breaking the law. Both were from the small town of Central Point, Virginia. Mildred was of African-American and Native American decent and Richard was white. They did know it was illegal for them to marry in their state-as well as 15 others—which is why they left to tie the knot. Within a month of returning home, police burst into their bedroom in the middle of the night and arrested them under the state’s anti-miscegenation law. They were sentenced to a one-year in prison term that could be suspended if they left Virginia.
Banished to Washington, D.C., Mildred Loving, who did not consider herself a political person, wrote about her plight to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. The American Civil Liberties Union took up the case and brought it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. In 1967, in a landmark Civil Rights ruling, the court struck down America’s laws against interracial marriage.
On the 40 th anniversary of the ruling, Loving issued a statement that read, “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.”