1958 July 11

Mildred and Richard Loving Rousted Out of Bed, Arrested For Being Married


Early in the morning, while they were still in bed, Mildred and Richard Loving were awakened by the county sheriff and two deputies in the small town of Central Point, Virginia, demanding of Richard, “Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?” Mildred answered, “I’m his wife.” Their wedding certificate hung on the wall. Mildred was African-American and Richard was white, and they were arrested and convicted of violating the Virginia miscegenation law, barring interracial marriage. They had married in Washington, DC, where interracial marriage was legal, and then moved back to Virginia.

The Lovings pled guilty in January 1959 and were sentenced to one year in prison. The sentence was suspended on the condition that they leave the state. They moved to Washington, D.C. Mildred later wrote to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, asking for legal assistance. Kennedy felt there was nothing he could do, but he referred the case to the local ACLU chapter, which took the case, eventually to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court overturned their conviction and declared such laws unconstitutional in the historic Loving v. Virginia decision, on June 12, 1967.

View a documentary on the Lovings and their case:

Read: Peter Wallenstein, Tell the Court I Love My Wife: Race, Marriage, and Law–An American History (2002)

See the acclaimed film, Loving (2016)

Watch the acclaimed HBO documentary: The Loving Story (2011)

Learn more about the case: https://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/loving-v-virginia-case-over-interracial-marriage

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