Current mood: contemplative
The Loving Conference, held June 13, 1992, commemorated the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Loving v. Virginia, which struck down 17 state laws forbidding or restricting marriages based on race. Today marks the 40th annversary of the decision and the 15th anniversary of the conference.
I was involved, in a small but very visible part, with the 1992 conference in the National 4H Center in Chevy Chase, MD. My good friends Edwin and Lori Darden helped stage the event, and asked me to make the banner that stretched across the stage. I also made a mix tape that was played on someone's boom box during part of the event.
Ed and Lori knew me in college, and we were in each other's weddings. Somewhere, I still have that banner, which as I recall was 38 feet long and 3 feet tall. (If I can find a photo, I will include it here later, but don't have one handy.) (2011 update: I still have it!)
The one thing that really made the conference hit home for me occurred when I was actually putting up the banner. I got there a bit late, past 8 a.m. as I recall, and a couple dozen people were already seated, with more filing in each minute. Turning from my labors for a second, I looked out into the auditorium to face a small sea of couples, and I could not tell who was whose! Anyplace else, I was accustomed to seeing like pairs. The very sight of it was liberating, driving the point home in one quick glance better than any amount of reading or interviewing or participating in a protest march could ever do.
I still think about that event, and am glad that I could participate and assist what I had always felt was a good and just cause.
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* * * Comment of my own on the original post * * *
[A follow-up: Back in June 2007, I sent a brief email to about this post to a few friends. Here is the relevant text of that email.]
In 1958, a multi-race woman and a Caucasian man dared to marry in the state of Virginia, against state law. They were arrested, and forced out of the state.
However, they ultimately took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they won, in so doing overturning similar laws in 16 other states. Since the family's name was Loving -- Richard Perry Loving, to be exact -- the court case was Loving vs. Virginia, and the conference held in 1992 to commemorate a quarter century of having the freedom to marry anyone you want, was called The Loving Conference.
Think about that: In America, you can marry anyone you want.
But think about that: Until 1967, you couldn't, in 17 states.