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When the sheriff demanded to know who Mildred was to Richard, she offered up the answer: "I'm his wife." When Richard gestured to the couple's marriage certificate hanging on the wall, the sheriff coldly stated the document held no power in their locale.Virginia law in fact forbade black and white citizens from marrying outside of the state and then returning to live within the state.She was survived by two of her children and a legion of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.Click here for a teaching resource (grades 6-12) on the Loving case.Mildred Loving was of African American, European and Native American descent, specifically from the Cherokee and Rappahannock tribes.
In the years following her high-profile court battle, Mildred Loving did her best to put the past behind her, refusing most interview requests to talk about the case.Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the opinion for the court, stating marriage is a basic civil right and to deny this right on a basis of race is “directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment” and deprives all citizens “liberty without due process of law.” Richard and Mildred were able to openly live in Caroline County again, where they built a home and raised their children.Tragically, Richard was killed in an automobile accident in 1975, when his car was struck by another vehicle operated by a drunk driver.The 1996 Showtime movie "What happened, we really didn't intend for it to happen," she said in a 1992 interview."What we wanted, we wanted to come home."Still, there's little doubt about Mildred and Richard's legacy.
There's an unofficial holiday celebrating their triumph and multiculturalism, called Loving Day on June 12.