These Tweets Show How a Decision from 50 Years Ago Made Interracial Marriages Possible

June 12th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Today marks the annual celebration of Loving Day, which honors the 1967 landmark U.S. Supreme Court in decision Loving vs. Virginia, that overturned state laws barring interracial marriage. 



Until the ruling, the legality of interracial marriage was a state decision, and 16 states had laws against it. In 1958, Richard Loving, who was white and Mildred Jeter, who was black—though there has been debate—were living in Virginia, which was one of the states that did not allow interracial marriage. So, they traveled to Washington, D.C. to wed and upon arriving home, were arrested and charged with "unlawful cohabitation". They were sentenced to a year in prison and took a deal to leave the state—for 25 years—in order to avoid sentencing. But in 1963, after Mildred's undertook a letter writing campaign to bring attention to their story, the American Civil Liberties Union took up the case, which eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. 



The decision in favor of the Lovings struck down segregationist marriage laws across the country, laid the groundwork for LGBT marriage equality and led to a massive societal shift towards interracial marriage. As the New York Times noted, "today, one in six newlyweds in the United States has a spouse of a different race or ethnicity," which is a "fivefold increase from 1967, when just 3 percent of marriages crossed ethnic and racial lines."



In honor of the 50th anniversary of the decision, people on Twitter are sharing how the Loving's fight affected their lives.











One Tweet pointed out that President Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, was 5 years old when the Loving decision finally ended marriage segregation. 



The Loving's story was explored in an HBO documentary film and a 2016 a film—called "Loving", naturally—which starred Ruth Negga as Mildred Loving and Joel Edgerton as Richard Loving. Negga, who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Ireland, is the product of an interracial relationship herself and said that the experience of making the film was deeply affecting. 

"It was a quite profound experience when you know that you're following in these people's footsteps," she told Elle in November 2016. "And it's a privilege, but it's also quite moving and it's quite saddening that they had to go through what they had to go through."

RELATED: These Interracial Couples Reveal the Taboos They Had to Overcome When They Started Dating