The first case dates back to ; the Washington Post outlines the history of Andrew Kinney, a black man, and his wife, Mahala Miller, a white woman, who would take their right to have their marriage recognized in Virginia all the way to the Supreme Court. For Kinney and Miller, their challenge ended in failure, with the Court ruling that "there can be no doubt as to the power of every country to make laws regulating the marriage of its own subjects; to declare who may marry, how they may marry, and what shall be the legal consequences of their marrying".
And the Supreme Court didn't do any better in , when it ruled in Pace v Alabama that an unmarried interracial couple punished for living in "fornication and adultery" with two years' imprisonment each weren't experiencing unequal protection under the law — even though the punishment for same-race couples who lived together was much more lenient. Cases that fought these marriage bans continued to crop up throughout the 20th century, even as new laws banning marriages between couples of different races continued to pop up.
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For example, in , the Expatriation Act held that any US woman who married a non-citizen gave up her own US citizenship no similar law applied to US men who married women who were not US citizens ; the Cable Act of stated that women could retain their citizenship if they married non-citizen men who were eligible for citizenship, which meant that US women who married Asian men who were not permitted to become US citizens at the time lost their citizenship. Several Senators attempted to pass constitutional amendments banning interracial marriage completely.
But things started to shift. Even though the US Supreme Court itself refused to hear two challenges to state miscegenation laws in the s , in , California's Supreme Court ruled in Perez v Sharp that the state ban on interracial marriage was unconstitutional, and laws in Florida against interracial cohabitation were thrown out in McLaughlin v Florida in The stage was set for the big decision; but the road to the Lovings' victory was still long and hard. The Lovings just wanted to be married and live in Virginia without being thrown in jail, an incredibly simple request — but their fight for that right was an incredibly difficult one.
They'd gone to Washington DC, where interracial marriages were legal, to get married in — but that sort of "marriage tourism" was seen as a problem: in the early s, both Vermont and Massachusetts had passed laws saying that interracial marriages for people who didn't live in the state were null and void.
This arrest led to a sentence of exile from the state of Virginia for 25 years on pain of imprisonment. Considering that both Lovings were lifelong Virginians whose families and friends all resided there, it was a cruel judgement. And the judge's own opinions made things worse. He noted:. That judicial opinion made clear the racist thinking that had supported anti-miscegenation laws for hundreds of years.
But the Lovings were still to have their day in the Supreme Court.
Like its predecessors, it fails. In McLaughlin v. Florida , the U. Supreme Court unanimously rules that laws banning interracial sex violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. McLaughlin struck down Florida Statute While the ruling did not directly address laws banning interracial marriage, it laid down the groundwork for a ruling that definitively did. The U. Supreme Court unanimously overturns Pace v.
Alabama , ruling in Loving v. Virginia that state bans on interracial marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the U. Following a November 7th ballot referendum, Alabama becomes the last state to officially legalize interracial marriage. By November , interracial marriage had been legal in every state for more than three decades thanks to the U. Supreme Court's ruling in —but the Alabama State Constitution still contained an unenforceable ban in Section The Alabama State Legislature stubbornly clung to the old language as a symbolic statement of the state's views on interracial marriage.
As recently as , House leaders successfully killed attempts to remove Section When voters finally had the opportunity to remove the language, the outcome was surprisingly close: although 59 percent of voters supported removing the language, 41 percent favored keeping it. Interracial marriage remains controversial in the Deep South, where a poll found that a plurality of Mississippi Republicans still supports anti-miscegenation laws. Share Flipboard Email.
Government U. Foreign Policy U. Liberal Politics U. And be it further enacted that all the [children] of English or other freeborn women that have already married Negroes shall serve the masters of their parents til they be thirty years of age and no longer. Commonwealth of Virginia. In that year, sixteen states still had laws that made interracial marriages illegal. Since interracial marriage was illegal in their home state of Virginia, the couple was married in Washington, D. When they returned to Virginia, the newlyweds were arrested and put in jail for breaking the law.
Before dawn one morning, police officers barged into their bedroom, shined a flashlight on them, and demanded to know what the couple was doing. Loving pointed to their framed marriage certificate on the wall, but the officers informed them that the D. At the trial, the Virginia judge gave the Lovings a choice: they could spend one year in jail or move to another state.
In his opinion, the judge said:. Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. The couple grudgingly moved to nearby Washington, D. Supreme Court. Ultimately, the Court found the laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional.
While the Loving decision fought racism in the legal arena, there is much more to be done in the social arena. As teachers retell the history of the United States, it is important to include discussion of racism, intolerance, and continued prejudice. Because contemporary youth culture seems to blur the lines between racial classifications, students will undoubtedly find relevance in more recent applications of miscegenation policies in communities throughout the United States.
The following case studies will facilitate classroom discussion and more in-depth examination of the issues associated with miscegenation laws and practices. The Suggestions for Further Reading, below, can also provide more detailed information and exploration of the topic. After the decision gained national attention and protest, the church backed down and allowed the baby to remain in the family plot.
This case study can generate purposeful discussion of views toward interracial marriages, local community mores, and racism in general. High school students will find the case of a high school prom in Alabama to be especially relevant.
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In February the white principal at the seven-hundred-student Randolph County High School called an assembly of seniors and juniors. The junior class president, ReVonda Bowen, whose father is white and mother is black, asked the principal what his order meant for her.
Community condemnation was swift. Parents organized demonstrations and called for a boycott of classes.
In response, about one-fifth of the high school students did not attend classes for several days. Although the principal withdrew his threat of canceling the prom, he was suspended with pay by a four-to-two vote from the local school board.
Eventually, Humphries was reassigned to the central office and a new white principal and black assistant principal were appointed. The Alabama prom case can be a useful case study to discuss the history of anti-miscegenation sentiment in the United States and how it can still be found in present-day society. The recent census can provide another immediate source for discussion.
For the census, the Census Bureau for the first time allowed people to check as many racial categories as they felt applied. In an effort to make it easier for citizens to take part in the survey, Census also used its shortest form since The first U. Seventy years later, the government began adding other categories like Mulatto, Chinese, and American Indian. By the Census Bureau had eliminated the terms mulatto, quadroon, and octoroon; it was assumed that three-quarters of all blacks in the United States were racially mixed anyway.
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- Loving V. Virginia - Case, Summary & Decision - HISTORY!
Anyone with any African American ancestry would henceforth be counted as black. These classifications had been adopted and in use since Americans using the write-in blank self-identified nearly three hundred races, six hundred American Indian tribes, seventy Hispanic groups, and seventy-five different combinations of multiracial ancestry.
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Today there are more people of mixed heritage being born in the U. In one in thirty-three children born was of mixed race. By the number had grown to one in twenty. In some states like California, one in every six births is a child of mixed race. Bell, Race, Racism, and American Law , 2d ed. Boston: Little, Brown, Ploscowe, Morris, Henry H.