Interracial Marriage Was Actually Illegal In 16 States In 1967 (Loving v. Virginia)

By | June 10, 2020

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Married couple Mildred and Richard Loving (1933 - 1975) embracing at a press conference the day after the Supreme Court ruled in their favor in 'Loving v. Virginia,' June 13, 1967. (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia found that state laws against interracial marriage were unconstitutional -- and there were 16 states with such laws on the books in 1967. The courageous couple Mildred and Charles Loving had been branded felons in, and in fact exiled from, their home state of Virginia, and they knew this couldn't be right. Not in the United States, with its noble principles enshrined in the Constitution -- right? Well, no. America's deep-seated issues with race, dating back to slavery, were responsible for many laws and customs that today stand out as obviously -- even comically -- unjust. But in the '60s, when black Americans were fighting to go to the same schools as whites and use the same drinking fountains, laws against interracial marriage were just another manifestation of the white supremacist attitudes that sought to legislate racial purity.

Prior To Mildred And Richard Loving

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Racists need exposing more than ever. (contexts)

The first attempts to end the ban on interracial marriage, named the anti-miscegenation laws, came nearly 20 years after the end of the Civil War. In 1883 Pace v. Alabama, the U.S Supreme Court ruled that Alabama’s racist anti-miscegenation law was constitutional because it punished blacks and whites equally. The justification would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetically depressing and sad.

By the mid-1950s, almost 100 years after the Civil War, more than half of the states in the country still had laws restricting interracial marriage and couples. The entire South refused to budge on laws that would narrow the chasm of racial inequality.