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When Dr. King gave his historic speech in 1963, interracial marriage was not only socially unacceptable, it was illegal in 19 states. Men and women hid their true feelings out of fear until one courageous couple put their lives on the line for the right to build a life together.

In 1958, Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, fell in love and wanted to get married. Since interracial marriage was against the law in their home state of Virginia, they traveled to Washington, D.C., to say "I do."

Shortly after returning home, the Lovings were dragged from their bedroom in the middle of the night, arrested and thrown in jail. As punishment, lawmakers decided to banish the couple from Virginia for 25 years.

Like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and other brave Americans who came before them, Mildred and Richard took a stand. They took their case all the way to the Supreme Court…and they won.

The 1967 case of Loving v. The State of Virginia legalized interracial marriage in America. Since then, it's estimated that more than 4 million interracial couples have married in the United States.
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FROM: The Dream Lives: A Martin Luther King Day Special
Published on March 14, 2008

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