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Virginia Women in History - Eastern Virginia Region
Item 6 of 6
This is a contributing entry for Virginia Women in History - Eastern Virginia Region and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
As a plaintiff in the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, Mildred Jeter Loving helped legalize interracial marriage in Virginia and the United States. She and her husband lived in Central Point and are buried at St. Stephens Baptist Church's cemetery there.

  • Photograph of Mildred Loving, courtesy of the Estate of Grey Villet.
  • The Library of Virginia honored Mildred Loving as one of its Virginia Women in History in 2014.
  • The Virginia Women in History Digital Trail is made possible by the Library of Virginia and American Evolution: Virginia to America, 1619–2019.
Growing up in Caroline County, Mildred Jeter Loving (July 22, 1939–May 2, 2008) fell in love with Richard P. Loving. In 1958 they married in Washington, D.C., because he was white and she had African American and Native American ancestry. A few weeks afterward, the couple was arrested at their home for violating Virginia's law against interracial marriage. They were each sentenced to one year in jail, with the sentence suspended so long as they lived outside the state and did not return together.

The Lovings moved to Washington and had three children, but Mildred Loving did not like living away from her home. In 1963 she wrote to the U.S. attorney general for help. At his suggestion, she contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a motion in the county court to vacate the sentence and allow the Lovings to live in Virginia as husband and wife. The local judge refused and the ACLU filed subsequent unsuccessful suits in state and federal courts. The United States Supreme Court heard their case, and its unanimous ruling on June 12, 1967, overturned Virginia's law, stating that the freedom to marry a person of another race was an individual civil right that a state could not deny.

Loving and her family returned to Caroline County, where they lived quietly in the home they built together. She often demurred that "all we ever wanted was to get married, because we loved each other," but Loving's courage ensured that interracial couples no longer faced legal discrimination against marriage.

Reprinted with permission of the Library of Virginia.