Loving Day: a Celebration of Mixed-Race Marriage

BlogHer Original Post

Did you know that June 12 is Loving Day? What's that, you ask? Loving Day is a celebration of the nationwide legalization of interracial marriage. The quite appropriate name actually comes from a landmark Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, which in 1967 struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage.

white man and Black woman dancing

Mixed-race couple dancing at Loving Day. Photo credit: Michael Kirby

The idea for Loving Day all began in 2004, as a graduate thesis project by Parsons School of Design student Ken Tanabe. Being of interracial, intercultural, and international heritage (Belgian and Japanese), Tanabe was shocked that no one ever taught him about the case. He was also shocked to learn that no one else his age seemed to know about it either.

From the first gathering with 100 people, the event has spread to many cities around the United States -- and Japan-- with the largest being the Loving Day Flagship Celebration in New York, where each year, over 1000 people join in dancing and family-friendly festivities along the East River waterfront.

In San Francisco, StoryCorps will be be holding a community recording session, during which people can sign up to tell their stories of multiethnic life.

But you don’t have to go to a major event to mark the occasion. Suggestions for Loving Day celebrations can be as simple as a backyard barbecue with friends and family.

Loving Day is not for people of any particular race or ethnic combination, nor is it just for mixed-race people, although Tanabe says that there's been a lot of excitement about mixed-race identity this year, especially with the results of the 2010 Census showing the growing multiracial population. The hope is that like Martin Luther King Day, the celebration will grow into an occasion to raise awareness and acceptance of interracial marriage as a civil right. This year, gay marriage advocates are also using Loving Day as an example of how restrictions on marriage have been repealed.

Mixed Roots Literary and Film Festival

Maya Soetoro-Ng

Maya Soetoro-Ng Presenting Award at 2010 Mixed Roots Literary and Film Festival. Photo credit: Larry Aaronson

On the West Coast, the largest Loving Day celebration takes place at the Mixed Roots Literary and Film Festival in Los Angeles, the weekend of June 11-12. The festival was created by Heidi Durrow (of the Lightskinneded Girl blog and author of “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky”) and Fanshen Cox (who with Durrow co-hosts the Mixed Chicks Chat)out of their own frustration as artists.

“The gatekeepers told us that there was no market for stories of the Mixed experience—we set out to prove them wrong. And they were! There is a real hunger for stories that reflect our increasingly multiracial world. Last year we had more than 1000 attendees on the first day alone. Increasingly, the Mixed experience is the American experience and the Festival is on the vanguard of this bellwether moment.”
-- Heidi Durrow and Fanshen Cox

Check out the Mixed Roots website for a full schedule and listing of speakers, workshops and films.

The Loving Story

Photo credit: Grey Villet and The Loving Story

If you’d like to learn more about Loving v. Virginia, check out Elisabeth Haviland James’ and Nancy Buirski’s film The Loving Story: The Long Walk Home, which tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple who in 1967 took the fight for their marriage all the way to the Supreme Court. While it seems like this case ought to be in the history books along with other seminal Civil Rights rulings, such as Brown v. Board of Education, it gets but a mere mention — even in law school. Attorney and blogger Tinu Diver of "Yes We’re Together" writes about the film in her post What Law School Won’t Teach You About Loving v. Virginia.

Loving Day organizers are still looking for mixed-race couples to share their stories, with the chance to be featured as part of a documentary. The couple who submits the best story will win free wedding bands from Ken and Dana designs.

Did you know about Loving v. Virginia? What will you do to celebrate Loving Day?

Race/Ethnicity Section Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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