Fifty years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that state laws banning marriage between people of different races violated the constitution. Since that landmark decision, there has been a steady rise in the number of interracial marriages. It is a trend that shows no signs of abating – evidence of positive change that tends to get buried under a mountain of gloomy reports on racial tension and strife.
The court ruled on a suit brought by Mildred and Richard Loving against Virginia, one of 16 US states that had miscegenation laws at the time. The Lovings’ case stemmed from a pre-dawn police raid on their home in rural Virginia on July 11, 1958, five weeks after Mildred, who is black, and Richard, who is white, had married in Washington, DC. There, marriages between people of different race were legal. In Virginia, they violated the state’s Racial Integrity Act, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.