When “Courage” and “Heroine” Weren’t Used So Lightly

…this sweet, brave lady personified both. In the name of love.

For marrying the only man she ever loved, Mildred Loving paid a price: She was arrested, convicted and banished from her home state.
…[But] in Caroline County word spread to the commonwealth’s attorney, the equivalent of a district attorney, that the two had married. He obtained a warrant for their arrests. One July night, the Lovings woke up about 2 a.m. to the see the sheriff and deputies surrounding their bed, shining flashlights and demanding to know who Mildred Loving was.
Loving explained: “I’m his wife.” Richard Loving rushed to show the men their marriage certificate. The sheriff was not moved.

“That’s no good here,” he said.

“They told us to get up, get dressed. I couldn’t believe they were taking us to jail,” Loving said.
The Lovings were indicted by a county grand jury and pleaded guilty to violating the 1924 Racial Integrity Act, another version of the state’s anti-miscegenation law. Judge Leon M. Bazile sentenced the couple to a year in jail but suspended the sentence for 25 years on the condition that they leave the state and not return together during that time.
To avoid jail time, the Lovings moved to Washington, D.C., but the years in exile were difficult. Loving missed her family, her friends, the rural life. In 1963, she wrote to Robert F. Kennedy, then the U.S. attorney general, and asked for his help.

Mrs. Loving died this past Friday.
We are ever so grateful to her.

6 Responses to “When “Courage” and “Heroine” Weren’t Used So Lightly”

  1. Mr. Bingley says:

    What brave, wonderful folks.

  2. Skyler says:

    This is an important case in constitutional law classes, as you can imagine. But this is the first time I’ve seen a photograph of the Lovings. They look like very nice people, which is very comforting.
    Virginia, my home state, is also famous for a case involving forced sterilization of women. They used to declare women to be retarded and sterilize them, though the case implied very strongly that these were simply disadvantaged women whom they thought were at risk to be prostitutes or vagrants. In that case in the 1930’s, the US Supreme Court ruled (Buck v. Bell) that forced eugenic sterilization was constitutional. That case is still technically valid law, it was only over turned through implication, not explicitly. Ms. Buck was known to be still alive and living with her sister in 1980, and of quite normal intelligence.
    Lots of very bad things have happened in the recent past. It makes a lot of our problems today seem quite petty in comparison.

  3. Skyler says:

    The case was in 1927, not the 1930’s, sorry. It’s also interesting to note that the opinion was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, so remember that every time you hear him being lauded as some great jurist.
    He wrote:
    “We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.”
    and he concluded,
    “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
    The woman was not an imbecile, she was raped and made pregnant by her cousin and hid in the assylum to save the family the embarrassment.
    But the most important issue to me is that the opinion is only possible through the guise of socialism. That is, by creating a public dole the government sees fit to do the most dastardly crimes to spare it the expense that it created for itself. It’s as though the government wants the good will of helping those in need, yet then using that good will as an excuse to curtail freedom. It’s almost as though Friedrich Hayek were right. 🙁 Socialism, in any its forms, leads inevitably to serfdom.

  4. Kate P says:

    That was so sad to read that Mr. Loving was killed in an accident–I wish they could’ve had more time together, after what they’d been put through. What a story.

  5. Mr. Bingley says:

    No, no, Skyler, they like to call themselves “Progressives.” It has such a positive, cheery ring about it.

  6. The_Real_JeffS says:

    We aren’t so far away from barbarianism, are we?
    It’s folks like these that help us rise above the animals.

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