With the recent release of Loving, a historical drama film written and directed by Jeff Nichols portraying Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs in the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage, I think about the social norms of the 60s compared to now. I speculate on what current day “outrage” will be normalized, glamorized, and simplified on the silver screen 50 years from now.
I also reflect upon my parents who were married eight years after the Loving v. Virginia ruling in 1975. On November 29th, they celebrated 41 years of marriage together.
My mother Maureen came from an Irish-Catholic father and a French-Canadian/Scottish mother in Cranston, Rhode Island. My father Fitzroy was born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica in the parish of Manchester. Both were raised thousands of miles apart, but shared many of the same core values. They met while both were attending college in Connecticut.
My white mother was only 22 years old when she married my black father who was seven and a half years older. They lived together on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, New York while they were engaged and married. In the 70s this was scandalous.
Fitzroy was an “illegal” at the time because his student visa had expired. My mother often recalls the day that they went to get his green card, and the man in the clerk’s office pulled my mother aside, and reminded her “that marrying someone for citizenship was illegal and that she didn’t have to do it.” She always smirks when she tells this story.
Anyone who is familiar with my mother knows that she is quite possibly one of the sweetest humans on earth, but when she tells stories such as this, you see an undeniable streak of defiance and an overwhelming sense of satisfaction for her boldness.
As a teenager I remember noticing that my parents would never hold hands in public. I later learned it because the mere sight of them walking down the street together could ignite hostility. A car full of young white men once pulled up next to them yelling racial slurs as they walked. This experience made them learn to “not throw it in people’s faces.”
When buying a home, my mother would often meet with the realtor first and tour the house alone. My father sometimes talks about the time he wasn’t allowed to live with his friends in an apartment in Boston while in college because the landlord didn’t want a black person living there. I am certain that the first part of this is a result of the latter.
My mother is a teacher and my father has spent his lifetime reinventing himself from being a pharmaceutical salesman, having a computer business, and eventually as a teacher until he retired in 2011. My father was president of our city’s youth soccer league and helped establish the first youth soccer league in a neighboring Connecticut town in the 80s and 90s. This program has benefited youths in the community for decades. My parents once fundraised and took 16 children on a ten day trip to Jamaica to show that with a goal, a plan, dedication, and hard work, anything is possible. Many of these kids normally would have never been able to see the sinking city of Port Royal that was once inhabited by pirates in their lifetime, and were then able to experience it firsthand. My mother relishes in teachable moments such as this.
Source: Black Voices | Monica Rose