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But it is true; and the fact that we're only a generation removed from a time when people were locked up, fined and exiled for daring to marry or cohabit with somebody of a different race is one of the most glaring examples of the racism that runs deep throughout our country's foundations.
The story of how childhood sweethearts Mildred and Richard Loving brought about one of the most important US legal rulings of the 20th century is a long one — and one that did not begin with them and their case.
It's shocking to remember that the ruling — which was a blow against institutionalized racism, a step towards greater marriage equality for all, and the basis for last year's award-winning film about the couple at the center of the legal storm — is only 50 years old, and that many of our parents were alive in an era when states could uphold laws barring people of different races from marrying.
Many states decided to "solve" the issue by banning marriage, sex, cohabitation or some combination of the three between races.
Anti-miscegenation laws, as they were often called, showed up in many states; a report in the 1950s showed that there were a huge range of prohibitions across the US, from laws forbidding African-Americans from marrying Native Americans (Louisiana, Maryland and Oklahoma) to anti-interracial marriage laws included in state constitutions (Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North & South Carolina and Tennessee).
Only nine states never outlawed interracial marriages.
was actually part of a long legacy of people — especially interracial couples themselves — taking on anti-miscegenation laws in court.