She was a stay-at-home mom; he was a laborer who supported his family with his hands and his back. Their experiences, means, and ambitions were limited to what they had always known: the simplicity of a close family life in rural Central Point, where they had grown up as part of a racially inclusive working class.

Far from being civil rights activists, as they would often later be described, Richard and Mildred Loving were motivated entirely by personal reasons. All they wished for was the freedom to live together as husband and wife, at home, near their family and friends.




Richard was a man of quietly independent spirit; it was not surprising, therefore, that an important escape from the constraints of the Lovings’ legal entanglements for him had been getting away from it all at the Sumerduck Dragway.

At Sumerduck, where speed was freedom for Richard, and freedom was

happiness for both, the Lovings were entirely themselves, open in their public displays of affection and emotionally at home as part of a mixed group of close friends.



The most dramatic moment in the [Supreme Court] hearings occurred when [attorney] Bernard Cohen spoke. “No matter how we articulate this,” he told the justices, “no matter which theory of the due process clause or which emphasis we attach to, no one can articulate it better than Richard Loving when he said to me, ‘Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.'"


On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Lovings, striking down Virginia’s racial purity laws on marriage, and ultimately those of sixteen other states, for violating the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the landmark opinion . . . [describing]  marriage as “one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival." . . . It was a finding that would resonate far into the future and bear on issues of marriage and gender equality that remain current to this day. But in 1967, what the court’s decision did for the Lovings was simple: it set them free at last to go home to a house Richard had built for Mildred and his family close to their parents and friends.



Past and future were blended in Grey Villet’s classic photo-essay on the Lovings. What they were for each other, their children, and their families in 1965, they would continue to be in the years that remained to them after the 1967 Supreme Court decision. The only objective of their decision to challenge Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws had been to be recognized as legally married and allowed to go home freely....

So it was that, in spite of the far-reaching legal impact of the 1967 Supreme Court decision in their case, little change came to the Lovings’ personal lives. Once they were declared legally married, they had simply gone home with their children to live in a modest concrete block house that Richard had built for Mildred just up the road from her mother in Milford, close to Central Point.