Today is the anniversary of the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which effectively legalized interracial marriage in the US. When Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested for being married, their case would ultimately redefine archaic laws throughout the country that prevented marrying outside of one’s race—and thus, having mixed-race babies. It would also become the inspiration for a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization headquartered in New York City, called Loving Day, which is dedicated to celebrating the multiethnic experience. Last Saturday, the group threw their ninth annual Loving Day flagship party at Solar One in Manhattan.
Some 400 attendees came out to the riverside venue to mingle, eat and dance. Deejays pounded beats all day amidst the smoke of hibachi grills serving up free grub, while related organizations such as SWIRL and Maven set up tables for information. Cute, mixed-race kids played ping-pong and ran around in costumes. The only interruption to the outdoor dance-a-thon, which included an impressive Electric Slide session, was when Loving Day’s founder Ken Tanabe addressed the crowd.
“Nine million people reported more than one race in the 2010 Census,” he reported to an explosion of cheers. “That makes up about 3 percent of the total population.”
Tanabe, a graphic designer who had stumbled across the Loving vs. Virginia case one day in college while Googling something else, is himself of Japanese and American backgrounds. His dad was in attendance on Saturday to cheer him on. Loving Day’s website encourages holding celebrations to commemorate the court decision across the country, and globally. There are ten celebrations in cities around the US listed for this week on the organization’s website.
“It’s important to celebrate multiethnic heritage globally with shared traditions such as Loving Day,” Tanabe said of the celebration’s mission. “They allow us to connect to each other and build community. Together we can connect the past and the future to fight racial prejudice through education. Rather than encourage multiracial relationships specifically, we’d like to work towards a place where relationships are about love, not race.”