Highway marker honoring Richard and Mildred Loving dedicated in Caroline County
A historical marker was placed on Saturday in Caroline County in honor of Richard and Mildred Loving, whose lawsuit, Loving v. Virginia, challenged Virginia’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act and resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1967 that overturned all state laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
The marker was unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday, June 2, the date of the Lovings’ wedding anniversary.
“This historical marker memorializes the powerful story of Richard and Mildred Loving and their courage to fight a state law prohibiting marriage between people of different races,” said Governor Northam. “Their perseverance and sacrifice profoundly changed American society for the better, and with this marker we commemorate an important part of Virginia’s history and ensure that their story continues to be told.”
After falling in love, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter, who were of different racial backgrounds, married in June 1958 in Washington, D.C. When they returned to reside in the Caroline County community of Central Point, “they were arrested for violating [Virginia’s] laws against interracial marriage, which made it a felony for interracial couples to leave Virginia, marry, and resume residence in the state,” according the marker.
In 1959, the Lovings were convicted at the Caroline County courthouse. In 1963, with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, the couple challenged their convictions under the law and their case reached the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, which upheld Virginia laws in a 1966 decision.
Through subsequent appeal, Loving v. Virginia reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the couple on June 12, 1967, in a decision that struck down Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act and all state laws prohibiting marriage between people of different races. The decision had an immediate and profound impact throughout Virginia and in a number of states across the country and is considered a milestone in advancing civil rights nationally.
The Caroline County marker is the second state marker highlighting the Lovings’ case. Last year, a marker celebrating the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, was dedicated in Richmond on Capitol Square in front of the building that housed the Virginia Supreme Court where the case was heard.
The Caroline marker provides more detail about the couple’s connections to the county and to Central Point, about 11 miles east of the marker’s location along U.S. Route 301, where both Richard and Mildred grew up. It also notes that that they returned to the community after marrying in Washington, D.C. The sign’s manufacturing cost has been covered by Caroline County.