Loving Day is June 12, and it is a celebration marking the day the Supreme Court struck down state bans against interracial marriage. USA TODAY


June 12 is Loving Day, a celebration marking the day the Supreme Court struck down state bans against interracial marriage.

The day is named for the monumental case, Loving v. Virginia, and the interracial couple at its center, Richard and Mildred Loving. The 1967 Supreme Court decision struck down 16 state bans on interracial marriage as unconstitutional.

"Over the long haul, it changes America," said Peter Wallenstein, of "Race, Sex, and the Freedom to Marry: Loving v. Virginia." "It’s just a stunning case."

In the five decades since the decision, interracial marriage has increased dramatically. In 2015, one in six newlyweds had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, which is more than five times higher than the number of intermarried newlyweds in 1967, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. 

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What happened to Richard and Mildred Loving?

In 1958, Mildred got pregnant and the couple traveled to Washington, D.C., to get married, Wallenstein said. They then returned 真人百家家乐官网网站home to Caroline County, Virginia, and not long after, they were awakened in the middle of the night by policeman who informed them they were breaking the law.

They were jailed on charges of unlawful cohabitation and offered a choice: Continue to serve jail time or leave Virginia for 25 years. The couple chose the latter and left the state.

Wallenstein said Mildred Loving reportedly wrote a letter to then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy pleading their case, and he directed her to the American Civil Liberties Union. A lawyer from the ACLU took the case, which made its way to the Supreme Court, where the law was unanimously overturned on June 12, 1967.

Wallenstein described Mildred Loving as instrumental in getting the case overturned, but she never considered herself a hero.

Study: When it comes to marriage, race and ethnicity matter less

“It wasn’t my doing,” she told the Associated Press in a rare interview in 2007. “It was God’s work.”

Richard Loving died in a car crash 1975. Mildred Loving died in 2008.

Their story is chronicled in the 2016 movie "Loving" as well as the 2011 documentary "The Loving Story."


Based on a 1967 landmark Supreme Court case, Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga play Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who fought for their love after Virginia law prohibited their marriage.

Get to know Ruth Negga: officially recognized by a handful of states and cities including Virginia, Vermont, New York City and Los Angeles, and civil rights organizations like the Anti-Defamation League.

Tanabe said the name is "not just a reference to a real couple who fought racial injustice, it also represents the love that we give to each other."

How do people celebrate Loving Day?

A small group of volunteers typically coordinates a flagship event in New York City, and Tanabe said he's been in contact with people in the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Taiwan and Spain.

Tanabe said people often celebrate with a backyard barbecue, community events, panel discussions or cultural performances. Some people even select June 12 as their wedding date because of its significance. 

How will Loving Day be different this year?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and theon the Loving Day website.

"We’ve been asking folks to continue that tradition of observing Loving Day in meaningful and personal ways but also by joining us in coming together in support of black lives and justice," he said.

Reflecting upon the cases' relevance amid nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, Wallenstein said Floyd's death epitomizes how half a century after the Loving decision and other civil rights milestones of the '60s, "the toxic residue of Jim Crow across the centuries continues to make its way down the streets and into people's lives."

"It really is quite remarkable how much can change and it’s just as remarkable how little does," Wallenstein said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

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