May 6, 2008

A death, history and a learning opportunity.

Mildred Loving died yesterday.

She and her husband were the focal point of a Supreme Court case that tossed the last of the segregation laws -- a ban on inter-racial marriages.

The Washington Post front page story on the death of Mildred Loving summarizes the fight she and her husband had to be allowed to live together in the Virginia of the 1960s.

The problem -- for the state -- was that she was black and he was white.

A couple of points for our students:
  1. The Post used -- but not to its fullest extent -- simple information from the Census Bureau about the number of interracial marriages. (4.3 million nationwide.) I would have been interested to know how many were in Virginia. (BTW, the number is of 2.7 million households in Virginia, 37,000 are self-identified as two or more races as head of households. Again, from the US Census Bureau.
  2. The ease nature of interracial dating we see with today's young people is something that is new -- the general acceptance in society -- to our society. The changes in the law took place just a generation ago. And that change came from the Supreme Court. (As did the right to privacy and a woman's choice to terminate a pregnancy.) I use these points regularly to show the importance of following what the Supreme Court does, even though it is the least accessible of the three branches of government.

For those who want to delve more deeply into the Loving case, I recommend you start with the actual Supreme Court hearing. You can listen to the MP3 proceedings. I revisit this case often just to listen to the arguments made on both sides and the questions from the justices.

The URL to hear the case is

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