There are few dates more important than June 12, 1967. That’s the day that the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage at the federal level, knocking down bans that remained in 16 states. On June 12, the United States (and the Netherlands) celebrate Loving Day, a joyful holiday named after the monumental court case: Loving vs. Virginia. Here’s what you should know about Loving Day, and how to celebrate:
1. Loving Day is named after an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving. Richard, who was White, and Mildred, who was Black, had been together since they were teenagers. When Mildred got pregnant in 1958, they traveled from their home in Virginia to Washington, DC, to get married. Shortly thereafter, they were woken in the middle of the night by police, who arrested them on charges of unlawful cohabitation. They were told that they could serve jail time or leave the state of Virginia for 25 years. They chose the latter.
2. Mildred Loving took their case to the Supreme Court. Mildred wrote a letter to then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy pleading their case, and he advised her to speak with the ACLU. A lawyer from the ACLU took the case, and nine years later, the Lovings — and every other interracial couple in the United States — were able to be legally married. Mildred insisted that she wasn’t integral to the unanimous Supreme Court decision. “It wasn’t my doing,” she told the Associated Press in 2007, one year before she died. “It was God’s work.”
3. Loving Day becoming a holiday is attributed to Ken Tanabe. Designer Ken Tanabe, who is mixed race, proposed the idea in 2004 for his senior thesis at Parsons the New School of Design. The holiday is “not just a reference to a real couple who fought racial injustice, it also represents the love that we give to each other,” Ken told the USA Today. Loving Day is now celebrated across the United States, and in the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and Spain.
Loving Day was created to: create a common connection between multicultural communities, groups and individuals; build multicultural awareness, understanding, acceptance, and identity; educate the public about the history of interracial relationships in order to fight prejudice; establish a tradition of Loving Day celebrations as a means to achieve these goals.
4. It’s recognized as an official holiday in several cities and states. Loving Day has been officially recognized in the states of Vermont, Virginia, and California. It’s also official in the following cities: Grand Rapids, Michigan; New York City; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Washington, DC; Eugene, Oregon.
5. The Loving Day flagship celebration happens in New York City. But, the day is celebrated with friends and family in small gatherings, as well. Think barbecues, community events, discussions, and more.