The claim: Richard and Mildred Loving were convicted for being in an interracial marriage and later won a 1967 Supreme Court case that declared a V
The claim: Richard and Mildred Loving were convicted for being in an interracial marriage and later won a 1967 Supreme Court case that declared a Virginia law prohibiting mixed-race marriage unconstitutional
A viral Instagram post recounts the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were arrested and given a one-year suspended sentence because they were a married interracial couple.
“Their union was a criminal act in Virginia because Richard was white, Mildred was black, and the state’s Racial Integrity Act, passed in 1924, criminalized interracial marriage,” the Jan. 6 post reads. The post included a photo of the couple with their attorney Bernard Cohen.
The Lovings later won the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, according to the post.
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Loving v. Virginia
The viral story about the Lovings is true.
The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 prohibited interracial marriage in Virginia and defined a white person as someone “who has no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian,” according to Encyclopedia Virginia.
The Lovings grew up in Caroline County, Virginia, and were neighbors, according to the county’s website. They traveled to Washington, D.C., where interracial marriage was legal, and wed on June 2, 1958.
After returning to Caroline County, local authorities forcibly entered their home at 2 a.m. and arrested the couple, The Washington Post reported. The Lovings pleaded guilty to violating the Racial Integrity Act on Jan. 6, 1959.
Judge Leon M. Bazile then sentenced them to a one-year jail term, which he agreed to suspend if the Lovings would leave Virginia and not return for 25 years. The pair moved to Washington, but were unhappy there, according to the Post.
Wanting to return to Virginia, Mildred Loving wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to ask for his assistance. Kennedy referred the couple to the American Civil Liberties Union, where attorneys Cohen and Philip Hirschkop worked and later represented the couple.
After the original ruling was upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Loving v. Virginia went to the U.S. Supreme Court, per Biography.com.
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court declared the Virginia law prohibiting mixed-race marriage unconstitutional on June 12, 1967, which legalized interracial marriage in every state, NPR reported.
The photo of the couple included in the post is also authentic. The image was taken by photographer Grey Villet.
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Our rating: True
The claim that Richard and Mildred Loving were convicted of interracial marriage and later won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case declaring mixed-race marriage unconstitutional is TRUE, based on our research.
Our fact-checking sources:
- Encyclopedia Virginia, “Racial Integrity Laws (1924–1930)”
- Caroline County website, “The Lovings”
- The Washington Post, Oct. 13, 2020, “Bernard Cohen, lawyer who won victory for interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia, dies at 86”
- American Civil Liberties Union, Feb. 9, 2012, “The Lovings: A Couple That Changed History”
- Biography.com, June 12, 2020, “Mildred Loving Biography”
- NPR, June 12, 2017, “’Illicit Cohabitation’: Listen To 6 Stunning Moments From Loving V. Virginia”
- Monroe Gallery of Photography, “Grey Villet”
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