The decline in opposition to intermarriage is even more striking: In 1990, according to a Pew analysis of data from the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, 63 percent of nonblack adults said they would be very or somewhat opposed to a close relative marrying a black person. Today the figure is 14 percent.
The Lovings were arrested in July 1958, when the local sheriff burst into their bedroom in the middle of the night, demanding to know what they were doing together. They had married in the District of Columbia, but their union was illegal in Virginia. A county judge offered a deal: They could avoid prison if they promised to leave Virginia and not return for 25 years.
They moved to Washington, but a longing for home upended the agreement. Mildred, missing her family, wrote a letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. He referred the matter to the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the constitutionality of Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law. Yet the Lovings — Richard died in 1975, and Mildred in 2008 — were reluctant civil rights icons.
“It was thrown in my lap,” Mrs. Loving told a Times reporter in 1992. “What choice did I have?”
So reluctant was Mrs. Loving to talk about her past that Mrs. Cosby, 36, says she learned the details of the story from movies about the case. Mostly, she remembers her grandmother as a “sweet, soft” woman, who cooked pot roast for Sunday dinner and taught her how to clean chitterlings — pig intestines, a Southern delicacy.
To explore the effects of Loving vs. Virginia, Race/Related would like to hear from you. Has being in an interracial relationship united or divided your family? Please tell us how, using this form. To join Race/Related, sign up here.
To get the conversation started, we put that question to Mrs. Cosby. She identifies as Native American and African-American, though she is often mistaken for Latino. On forms that ask questions about race, she pencils in “other.” Her husband is fair-skinned, but considers himself black.
“Honestly, it’s never had any effect either way,” she said, of her own interracial union. “It’s just normal to us. There’s a lot of interracial couples in our family. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t, but I don’t think it was based on the color of their skin.”
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Several descendants of the slaves sold to keep Georgetown University afloat in 1838 have received acceptance letters from the school. Two of them, Elizabeth and Shepard Thomas, and their mother, Sandra, joined Race/Related’s Rachel Swarns and John Eligon for a discussion. [Watch]
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Nine Plays, One Truth: Mfoniso Udofia on Her Immigrant Experience, and Ours [Read]
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