Not so recently in the United States, same sex marriages were illegal. In the last century, there were laws on the books that prohibited folks from different races marrying.
Loving v. Virginia was a landmark civil rights case in 1967 that recognized marriage as a fundamental right guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which includes the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.
In 1958, Mildred Loving, a Black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were convicted and sentenced to a year in prison for violating the state of Virginia’s laws prohibiting their marriage.
That conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1968, ending discrimination in marriage based on race.
The Loving decision was a catalyst in 2015 to help abolish discrimination in marriage in same-sex marriages, which allowed for equality in the LGBTQ communities of all races including this author.
Before the Loving decision, Joan Steinau, a white woman, married Julius Lester, who at the time was a singer and a photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Julius later became a writer.
Joan and Julius were divorced in 1970.
Next month, Joan’s memoir, “Loving before Loving: A Marriage in Black and White,” will be released. In the book, she recounts her marriage to Julius Lester before the Loving decision in the midst of the civil rights era as a wife, mother, and activist.
In an interview with the Post, she said, “Given both the erasure and distortion of Black lives as presented in the white-led media, the existence of a robust Black press . . .has been essential to the survival and thriving of Black community.”
Quoting the Chicago Daily Defender in her memoir, she said, “When one of its reporters asked President Truman, after he said school integration might lead to intermarriage, ‘Would you want your daughter to marry a Black man if she loved him?’ The president responded with a typical segregationist attitude of the time, ‘She won’t love anybody that’s not her color.’ It was important for the Black reporter to be there, because of course he assumed the possibility that naturally she could love anyone and pointed that out with his question.”
She added, “That’s just one example of a long history of significant advocacy and reportage by hundreds of Black newspapers over the last 150 years. The Post News Group has jumped into the gap regionally to fill this important space, and I’m grateful for it. Until we have true representation of all experiences/perspectives at major media outlets, we will continue to need media targeted to excluded groups.
“My own history with Oakland/Berkeley dates to the 1980s when I began to visit from the East Coast and plot a way to move here. In 1991, my wife and I did settle in Berkeley. We immediately joined a predominantly Black church in Oakland and began creating a friendship circle. The diverse culture here was high on our list of reasons to move from our predominantly white area in New England. And it has been everything we hoped for.”
Joan Lester dedicates this memoir to her wife, Carole. In addition to this memoir, she is a commentator, columnist and book author.
“Loving before Loving A Marriage in Black and White” by Joan Steinau Lester is available for pre-order now and on sale on May 18 on Amazon and at local bookstores.
For more information log onto JoanLester.com.
Wikipedia was a source for this story.