In Loving Celebration

 

Friday, June 12th is Loving Day. The name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the Supreme Court decision which “declared all laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional in the United States.”

1967. That was only 53 years ago. 

(By the way, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the 2016, Oscar-nominated film Loving.  The movie is based on the real life story of Richard and Mildred Loving whose own interracial marriage and legal battles ultimately made it possible for my husband and I to marry.)

My husband and I married in 1999. We were lucky; race wasn’t an issue for us. My parents were entirely accepting of my husband-to-be; I think because they had dealt with their own difficulties prior to marrying. When they married, in 1975, their different religious backgrounds weren’t readily accepted by their parents. (45 years later, they remain happily married.)

But even though it was 1999, and we were on the verge of a new millennium, I had the hardest time finding a wedding cake topper featuring a mixed-race couple. My mom and I visited shop after shop with no luck. Salespeople couldn’t make any suggestions about where we might locate such a cake topper. And don’t forget – this was in 1999. The internet was not what it is now. 

I’ve always been disappointed that I had to settle for the closest thing I could find — a cake topper that featured a white woman with blond hair (I’m brunette) and a dark-skinned groom.

Hopefully, other brides no longer have that issue. 

And hopefully, times are changing.

I think about the famous African-American individuals we learn about in school. The familiar names – Rosa Parks, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, just to list a few. I think about the names that Hollywood has taught us – for example, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson (from Hidden Figures) and Mr. and Mrs. Loving.

Why aren’t those names taught? 

And what other names remain unknown to most of us?

 

4 thoughts on “In Loving Celebration

  1. I have a thing about saying I liked a movie like that. I did, but I think it is more appropriate to say, “I appreciated ….” And I did appreciate that movie. I am glad the law was available for you.

    Here is something I put on facebook on Saturday.

    All the mess that has been going on made me think of moving to Michigan. I was such a rookie kid knowing nothing about living in the snow and ice. We walked to school from where we lived on Michigan State campus. Each set of apartments had 12 units in it. They were set up like a pi sign. I walked to school with a black girl in my class named Wanna Meyers. After I returned to live with my grands in Mississippi, I lost track of her. This rookie kid could not get her boots off. Wanna helped me everyday the entire year. I was a kid from Mississippi. I should have had issues with Wanna, but I never did. We played under the weeping willow tree, and we adored each other. We ate in each other’s homes. My Mississippi parents never thought anything about it. I heard Wanna’s family wound up in Cincinnatti after her dad’s graduation, but I don’t know. I thought about her years ago and tried to find her to thank her for that support, but privacy laws and not knowing entire names made it impossible to locate her. It is 63 years later, and I have never forgotten her and her kindness. How did these two kids, supposedly enemies, wind up being best friends at that time in our lives. I really loved her as kids love each other. I look at the little girl I keep and watch her being friends with a little girl of a different ethnicity. I am so very proud of her and her relationship. She doesn’t have the same issues I had years ago. It is a better world. Not perfect but better. Why can’t we all take our cues from the kids in our lives. I have never told my little kidddo about my friend because I did not want to call attention to the differences she and her friend don’t see. Let’s let them lead us to better lives.

    ________________________________

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    • Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! Children have much to teach us in terms of acceptance and truly focusing on the commonalities and beauty so readily found within each person they come into contact!

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  2. I married my first husband, an African American, in Los Angeles in 1958. I was shocked when, some years later, I read that this marriage was considered illegal in some parts of our country!! That marriage taught me so much about what it meant–and still means–to be Black in America. I don’t think of myself as naive; as a Jewish woman, I was certainly aware of discrimination; but what I learned is that the experience of African Americans in this country–and in much of the world–is uniquely challenging. I keep hoping that we’re learning, but we still have a long way to go…

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    • Zhita, so well put! In certain respects, it’s heartening to see how far we’ve come as a country. And in other respects, it’s utterly heartbreaking to see how far we still have to go as a country.

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