CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - On this Valentine’s Day, the story of a ground-breaking central Virginia couple has received special recognition. A documentary called the “Loving Story” premiered tonight on HBO.
Richard and Mildred Loving were married in Washington D.C. in June 1958, and shortly thereafter arrested and thrown in jail after they returned to their home in Caroline County.
At the time, 53 years ago, interracial marriages were against the law in Virginia. The Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 made such marriages illegal.
The Lovings refused to get a divorce, and they fought the law all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices struck down anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia and more than a dozen other states.
The couple became unintentional civil rights heroes, merely because they fell in love.
Richard, who was white, and Mildred, African American and Native American, were dragged out of bed five weeks after they were married, and jailed for being “mixed race couple.”
The courts sentenced the couple to one year in jail, time suspended, if they left the state. Richard refused to divorce Mildred, and so the family was forced to leave Virginia for Washington D.C.
The couple won the right to return to the state after the courts overturned anti-miscegenation laws in 16 states in the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia (1967).
The case paved the way for countless Americans to marry without fear, and created a major cultural shift. The couple had three children; Donald, Peggy, and Sidney Loving.
The documentary aired tonight on cable, and will re-air. If you missed it, check your cable listings and HBO.com.