It seems hard to believe that two people could fall in love, get married, and then tossed in jail because they were of different races.   You don't have to turn the clock back that far to a time when that was the law in one-third of American States.  In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial marriage in 16 states.

The case was brought by Mildred Loving , a woman of color, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other.  Richard and Mildred Loving married in 1958 in Washington, DC.  A 1924 Virginia law made it illegal to do so in their home state.  After their wedding, they returned home, only to be arrested in the middle of the night after police got an anonymous tip.   A pregnant Mildred spent more than a night in a jail cell, separated from her husband. A local judge gave them a choice: A year in jail or to leave the state for 25 years.   They left, but after the Civil Rights movement got rolling, they reached out to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who got the ACLU involved, and they eventually went to the Supreme Court, which struck down the law against interracial marriage. It was nine years after their marriage, 1967.  Eight years later, Richard was killed by a drunk driver.

I recently sat down with a couple of my musician friends, Mike Hyde and Edye Evans Hyde.  They've been married nearly 40 years, and are involved in West Michigan's Loving Day Celebration, which starts June 11th.  They Hydes say things have definitely changed, especially among younger people, whom they say really don't give mixed marriages a second thought.  Still, they say, some older Americans still have trouble accepting it.   The Loving Day Celebrations are to acknowledge the courage of the Lovings in bring about change.

Loving Day Events in West Michigan
Monday June 11th: Loving Day Film Premiere of "Little White Lie"  Hosted by Ebony Road Players,  2121 Celebration Dr NE, Grand Rapids. Ebony Road Players and Celebration Cinema North are premiering a free showing of the award winning documentary film " Little White Lie" in celebration of Loving Day. The showing will be followed by a Q & A with the filmmaker Lacey Schwartz. "Little White Lie" is a personal documentary about dual identity, race and the legacy of family secrets, denial, and redemption.

Saturday June 16th. Family Picnic and Dance.  4p-8p.  Loving Day's main event will be held at 135 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids. Come help us celebrate unity and inclusiveness in our community. We will be posting a detailed schedule for the days events once they are solidified.

Sunday June 17th, 3pm-5pm.  “Neither There nor Here”   "Neither There, Nor Here." will be staged at Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St SE This original, multimedia, interdisciplinary memory play-meets-cooking show is directed by A Host of People co-director Sherrine Azab and collectively created by the ensemble. Neither There, Nor Here focuses on the experience of people with liminal identities of race, gender, culture and sexuality who live between so-called traditional binaries to create their own cultures that move beyond more typical either/or identities—all through the lens of a live televised cooking show. Azab will act as host and “chef de cuisine” while the five other performers will each lead a segment that delves into their personal identities. As the performers tell their stories, family photos will be projected onto the set by Azab who controls a live-feed camera and each story will spill into other more theatrical modes from table-top theater, to strange dances, to a pop song sing-along.

Here's a source of Loving Day Celebrations around the country.

More From WBCKFM