Alabama's 5th Loving Day celebrates mixed race couples
Homewood, Ala —
50 years ago a Supreme court case changed history. In Loving v Virginia the court ruled the state's ban on interracial marriage was unconstitutional. This month people across the country are celebrating the 50th anniversary of that decision.
In the past five years a documentary and then a feature film about the Loving v Virginia has shined a light on just how recently it was illegal for mixed race couples to marry. "It's not part of our lifetimes but it's part of our parents lifetimes, certainly it would affect who they would marry so yeah it doesn't seem that long ago," says Elliot Panek.
Panek and Kathryn Drago will celebrate their 4th wedding anniversary next month. But they're only just now learning about the Loving case and what it means for them. "It's kinda a long story but it's actually my first loving day celebration because I just found this past year that I am mixed race. Before that I was raised by a white family so it is completely new to me. I feel like I am learning this new part about my identity and myself and so it was important for me to take part in this so I could understand more about what mixed couples have been through in the United States," says Drago.
The couple has been surprised as they learn more about the laws that used to exist. "To find out that even in Alabama the law was still in the books even up until the year 2000, that especially was shocking," says Drago.
They're grateful for what they have and say Loving day celebrations like one held at the Homewood Public Library Saturday are a way to keep changing minds and increasing acceptance. "There is still a long way to go and I think this being able to celebrate it and celebrate the diversity of people who are able to be married and love one another is a great first step in creating more acceptance of the couples and the children they have," says Drago.
The couple also says Loving day doesn't just have to be about mixed race couples, it's a more general lesson about acceptance.