By Kelcie McKenney
On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court decision on Loving v. Virginia struck down 16 state bans on interracial marriage.
The case was centered on the couple Mildred and Richard Loving. Mildred was an Indigenous Black woman and Richard was a white man. The couple was married in 1958 in Washington—where interracial marriage was legal—then moved to Virginia. In the middle of the night, their local sheriff broke into their home and charged them with violating Virginia’s anti-interracial laws.
The case made its way to the Supreme Court, where the Loving v. Virginia ruling made the history we know today. But even though that decision was made in 1967, it took those 16 states years to finally strike down their state-level bans. The last state was Alabama, who finally removed its ban on interracial marriage in 2000. Only 20 years ago.
One of those states also included my current home state, Missouri, where whites were explicitly banned from marrying Blacks and Asians. After the Supreme Court case, that law was finally overturned in 1969.
Thanks to Mildred and Richard Loving, my relationship isn’t illegal.
My partner, Travis Young, is a film photographer, lighting fanatic, absolute goof ball, 3D artist, dog and cat dad, and vulnerability-chasing and deeply caring human, who also happens to be Vietnamese. He’s the son of immigrant parents, who moved to Kansas during the Vietnam war. He’s taught me how to make spring rolls, what makes a good bowl of Pho truly good, that Asian representation in media means so much to him personally, how he’s navigated the struggles and joys of being the first child in his family to be born in America, how racist comments leave a sting that lasts years later, and that love can be profound and supportive yet independent and wild.
Our type of relationship has only been legal for 51 years.
As a white woman, it’s weird to think about our relationship as “legal” or “illegal.” It’s even weirding thinking about the fact that both of our parents were alive when interracial relationships weren’t allowed in those 16 states.
Today on June 12, 53 years after that Supreme Court case, I’m sitting in our home thinking about the story that brought Travis and I together. Not just the way we met (at a Creative talk at a local ad agency where Travis redefined what it meant to be vulnerable), or the way we started dating (a year into our friendship I finally admitted I had feelings, luckily he did too), or even when we decided to move in together (in a plant store between a selection of tropical greenery where we said, ‘What are we waiting for?’)—instead I’m thinking even further back. To Mildred and Richard Loving, who ended interracial marriage bans finally. To 1964, where in McLaughlin v. Florida the Supreme Court ruled Florida’s prohibition of interracial cohabitation unconstitutional. To Perez v. Sharp in the California Supreme Court in 1948, which ended California’s interracial regulations. And to so many other local-level cases that brought down one small piece of the American racism system.
So thank you Loving Day, for being so full of love.
Kelcie McKenney is a writer, editor, and artist who is passionate about feminism. She currently works as Digital Editor at The Pitch , where she writes and edits for Kansas City’s alternative magazine. You can find Kelcie on Instagram with #kcdaddy, where she talks about her three-legged cat Luna, dank memes, and ways to overthrow the patriarchy.
Travis Young is a Kansas City based photographer with roots in photojournalism and visual storytelling. He enjoys using film cameras to help him process, celebrate, and challenge his understanding in topics of race, gender, status, and mental health. When not behind a camera, you can find him creating things in 3D, obsessing over your grandmother’s dope Volvo Wagon from the 80’s, or getting lost in some tedious cleaning activity because he is a relentless Virgo.