Legal Divas of Color: Mildred Loving

Legal Divas of Color: Mildred Loving

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Mildred and Richard Loving in 1967 courtesy of Francis Miller/The Life Picture Collection/Getty

Usually, my Legal Divas of Color series features female attorneys that have been trailblazers in our world. But after seeing the Oscar nominated movie Loving  [finally], I was moved to switch gears in my final Legal Diva of Color for Black History Month 2017.

Mildred Loving was a woman of color who married the love of her life.

Small problem: he was white, and it was the 50’s in America. This was at a time in history when there were laws for bidding interracial marriage (called miscegenation laws). The couple lived in Virginia, but went to Washington DC where interracial marriage was legal to get married. After being arrested (snatched out of their beds in the middle of the night while she was far along in her pregnancy with their first child), a long legal battle ensued. The Lovings pled guilty to violating the “Racial Integrity Act“, with the condition that they do not live in the state of Virginia for 25 years.  The Lovings were close to their extended family; the forced separation began to take a toll. After urging from a family member, Mildred Loving wrote a letter to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy. He was not able to help her, but he referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union. The legal battle continued, winding its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. Finally, they received relief with the ability to live as man and wife in 1967.

The tragic ending of the story is that Richard Loving passed away seven years after they won their battle — killed by a drunk driver. Mildred never remarried, and lived in the house that he built for her until the day she passed away. When interviewed before she passed away in 2008, she said “I miss Richard. He took care of me”.

That was one of many times I was brought to tears during the course of the movie. It was very much a love story as well as a legal battle. The Lovings overcame so much just to be together but they did not get their “forever” story in this life.

When I heard that quote, I think back to this weekend where I was struggling with a really bad cold. As I was laying down mouth breathing, my husband calls to me from the next room “did you use Vicks vapor rub?” I couldn’t give much of an answer because I felt so terrible. He came in, rubbed the afflicted areas, gave me a kiss, and left the room to continue what he was doing. I think of those small tender moments in the context of love, and what Mildred was missing for those years after her Richard passed away.

The other emotional part of the movie for me was the involvement of the ACLU in fighting for this couple and all couples to follow be able to marry who they love. The Loving case is part of the basis used to obtain the rights for gays to marry in America. This case has so many ripples; if the ACLU did not take on the battle, it would be a very different story. My husband and I, as well of hundreds of thousands of other couples since then, would not be able to legally be with who they love.

I am so proud to be a part of this organization. When asked during my interview why I wanted to come to the ACLU, I said quite simply “Loving vs. Virginia. If it was not for the ACLU, I would not be married to the love of my life.”

As an interesting footnote, most states struck down their miscegenation laws immediately after the Loving ruling. Alabama, however, was the last to do so in 2000. 40% of the population voted to keep this law, even though it was unconstitutional.

Although she is an unlikely heroine, Mildred Loving is one nonetheless. Mildred Loving, thank you for being a Legal Diva of color, paving the way for people to marry who they love  regardless of race or gender.

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Iconic Life Magazine photo of the couple, taken by Grey Villet 

See the original news report below:

#TBT: Best of 2016

#TBT: Best of 2016

voting 2016

 

 

Hi RLD Family,

As we bring 2016 to a close, I wanted to share the stories on the blog that were the most popular this year. I’ve put the link to the post in the title, so go ahead and click to read it again…or for the first time if you missed it.

Let’s begin the countdown!

 

 

#5. Don’t Leave America, Fight For It!

This Presidential election definitely brought out some strong feelings — and the outcome came as a surprise to many. I shared my thoughts as to “where from here” and my resolve to fight for what is rightfully mine as an American. My forefathers planted trees on this land, and I intend to stay and enjoy the fruit of their labor.

 

#4. An Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly on Slavery

My response to the crazy and factually incorrect comments regarding slavery made by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly appeared in the Huffington Post. It remains the most commented on and liked piece that I have done so far.  We must be vigilant to make sure that those who wish to revise history, whitewashing it and trying to minimize the effect it had on this nation, are held to task.

 

#3. My Take on Police Shootings

This piece was published in the Huffington post as well. It was in response to some of the horrific shootings by police that we saw this year. Not every case merits an arrest;  if an officer can articulate legitimate reasons for being in fear, then the shooting is justified.  The focus must remain on deescalation tactics  to reduce the number of fatal shootings, and shining a light on those shootings that are not justified to ensure that everyone is equal under the law — facing consequences when the law is broken.

 

#2. #LoveWins: Interracial Relationship Realities

An innocent and sweet Old Navy ad featuring an interracial family drew the ire of Internet trolls. As a result of the racist backlash, many families started to post pictures showing what love is. I was no different;  not only did I post pictures of my husband and I, but I penned a piece to discuss some of the challenges that we face as a couple. At the end of the day, as long as you have a love and communication, you can overcome anything!

 

And the number one post of 2016 on the Resident Legal Diva is:

#1. Goodbye My Dear Friend…

This was one of the toughest pieces for me to write. Actually, writing it wasn’t that hard; reading and sharing it was the difficult part. My friend suddenly passed away earlier this year, and left a hole in my heart that can never be filled. This was a tough year for me with regards to friends and family transitioning to the next life. All we can do is cherish those we love while we have them, mourn those we have lost, and keep them alive in our hearts through our beautiful memories.

This year I also took a gander at vlogging! I did three videos — check out the links below.

 

So for 2017, what do you want to see on the blog? Do you want to see more articles? More Diva Talks videos? More Diva Reads where I discuss articles of interest that I have been reading?  I’d love to hear from you, sound off in the comments below.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and amazing New Year. I’ll see you on the flipside!

M.

 

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courtesy CreateHerStock

 

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Merry Christmas! 

Thank you RLD family, for all of your love, support and comments throughout this year. 

As I have said before, love is the most precious as well as priceless gift we can give. Give it abundantly, not only on Christmas Day, but every day!! ❤️

My husband and I are spending our Christmas in Stowe, enjoying the snow and each other. May you have a holiday filled with love, friends and family. 

M. 

The Cowboy and I on a sleigh ride in Stowe, VT
#TBT: Grief During the Holidays

#TBT: Grief During the Holidays

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Hi RLD Family,

I know some of you have lost loved ones this year as I have.  It is tough going through the holidays — you are joyful on one hand, because the year has come to an end and you get to spend time with those you love. On the other hand, there is always an empty seat at the table as well as in your heart.  Here is a piece I wrote on surviving the holidays when grieving — I hope this helps you get through it. 

Hugs!

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Tips for Grieving

  • Take it day by day, minute by minute. Don’t think beyond today. It’s easier that way.
  • It’s a rollercoaster. You will feel a ton of emotions – anger one minute, crying the next, laughing for a moment. It’s totally normal although it feels weird. You’re working through all those memories and emotions at the same time, and that’s how it manifests itself. Take it one step at a time, and allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling without judgment.

Read the other tips here.

Who’s In Your Corner?

Who’s In Your Corner?

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My mom always had a saying “always know who is in your corner”. 

She meant it in the way of not following friends at the expense of those who truly support you. I’m not sure if she intended it as a boxing metaphor, but if she did I wouldn’t be surprised. My mom was a super classy lady who could speak with authority on any sport. It’s still tough accepting she is gone nearly 5 years later, but her gems of wisdom remain.

As I have grown older, I now understand fully the meaning of her statement. Her words came to me full throttle in the last week, which has been a tumultuous one in my life. This week, I laid my auntie (her sister) to rest. I took it quite hard, because they were so close, and she was very present in my life. She endured the loss of her baby sister (my mom) in 2012, and my uncle in 2014. When she told me she was ready to go home to the Lord, I totally got it. It’s tough because unfortunately, you reach a point where you start to measure your mortality based on those who have passed. I’m there. As I prepared for the memorial service, some drama ensued. A dear friend of mine who used to work with me messaged me and said “I’d like to come by the service. Any auntie of yours is an auntie of mine“. I literally burst into tears.

Know who is in your corner.

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RIP Aunt Veda and Uncle Joel. Us during better times in 2013

I had an intense murder trial last week that ultimately resulted in a not guilty verdict. It’s tough, because as any prosecutor will tell you, you believe in your case. Sometimes you go in thinking “these facts are awful, but I know he’s guilty”. Other times you think your case is strong. For me, it was the latter. But what was equally as painful for me as the verdict is that someone who I thought was a friend showed me they were not. Sometimes the illusion of friendship is stronger than the reality. The key is to see this clearly and govern your life accordingly.

Know who is in your corner.

But, as challenging as this week was, I received some wonderful news that will result in a major life change in 2017. (More on that in a later post, stay tuned!). My husband is practically doing backflips; I am more cautiously optimistic. I think he and I take turns on being the dreamer or the pragmatic in the marriage. But looking at him reminds me of how blessed I am to truly have someone that is truly hard core in my corner. My “Ride or die” if you will.

Who is in your corner? As this year ends, take stock. For those who have supported you, make sure to tell them how much they mean to you. Those folks are rare, and our time here on Earth is limited. Those who don’t support you in word and in deeds, cut them loose. You can fly higher as well as faster with less weight.

To conclude on a cheerier note…I thought this song was so cheesy when it came out, but heaven knows it’s applicable.

 

M.