Loving Day, Juneteenth, and the Right to Family

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 12th is the anniversary of the supreme court case Loving v. Virginia that struck down the law banning interracial marriage of Black and White people. Juneteenth is the celebration of June 19, 1865, the day the Union soldiers read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas. For RH Reality Check, Echoing Ida writer Cynthia Greenlee explains what the two have to do with one another.

In June, I celebrate two commemorations that may not make it onto standard calendars of holidays and observances: Loving Day on the 12th and Juneteenth on the 19th.
Each of these days should remind us that, within the African-American freedom struggle and broader movements for equality, there has always been a struggle to determine the right to marry, select an intimate partner of one’s choice, and to form the families that we want.
On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, a 1924 law that banned marriages between whites and “coloreds,” was unconstitutional. That law made illegal all formalized unions between whites and non-whites, including Blacks and American Indians. Blatantly eugenic in nature, the act aimed to maintain the purity of whites and accomplish the impossible and retroactive task of “genetic segregation” of populations that had been intermingling since Jamestown and the arrival of the first Africans to the shores of what would become Virginia, in 1619.
Almost a century earlier, on June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, bearing news that the Emancipation Proclamation had ended slavery in the rebelling territories more than two years prior. Though there are multiple stories about why such important news hadn’t trickled down to the enslaved people there, a Union General read a decree that there was to be “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.” (Well, not really: The rest of the executive order came with the warning that the freed people were expected to remain quiet and at the places where they were enslaved, to work for wages and for the very people who had just owned them, and would not be “supported in idleness”—setting up a labor system stacked against them and to the benefit of literate ex-masters with few scruples about using violence.)
So what does Juneteenth have to do with Loving Day?

Read the entire piece.

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