Peacemaking and Becoming People of Peace ~ Post 6: The Anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia Decision

Today is June 12, 2020. It is the anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967. This holds special significance because of something my parents did around the same time, as “people of peace.”

“The Supreme Court announced its ruling in Loving v. Virginia on June 12, 1967. In a unanimous decision, the justices found that Virginia’s interracial marriage law violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.”

~ Loving v. Virginia, History.com Editors, November 17, 2017; Updated June 10, 2019

The story of the Lovings has become important to me in the last few years, as I reflect on my growing up years. I plan to write more about this, but here is some of the background on why.

My parents show many of the attitudes and actions typical of what the Bible calls people of peace. This means they treat all people with respect, are hospitable and welcoming people regardless of their status, and “not respecters of persons”–meaning not giving undue consideration to certain individuals/groups over others for reasons of wealth, race, class, vocation, etc.

At the same time the Lovings were in legal battles, my parents rented to a mixed-race couple a small house they owned right next to where our family lived. So this couple and their two children were our immediate neighbors.

I’ve talked with my Mom about this some in recent years. Her response was, “We just take people at face value and at their word.” That seemed how they treated everyone, considerate even to people they didn’t care for much.

For me, their value was caught as much as taught. It’s become a source of much blessing through the years.

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Writing this short piece about the Lovings has sparked more processing about my past and how that plays into the present and possibilities for the future. So, here are some add-on thoughts about the Lovings, people of peace, and the times we live in.

The first thing is that I can recall a few other people from my childhood years of the 1960s in my small-town hometown who I now see fit the biblical profile of a person of peace. What really intrigues me is that includes both men and women, from a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Also, in retrospect, I know this group included both social and economic conservatives and liberals, and politically affiliated Republicans and Democrats. (And if you’re wondering how I can know about politics that far back … I attended my first county political meeting at age 9 before the 1964 national election–and I asked my parents if I could go!)

Through the years, I’ve wondered if part of it had to do with “the pioneer spirit.” Almost everyone was from somewhere else, so it took a lot of guts to get up and move to the western frontier region. But rugged individualism was not how anyone survived in that environment–it was in community. We relied on our neighbors for help, to watch over one another, even offer assistance to people we didn’t personally know when there was an emergency.

So in many ways it was a both/and existence — we could be both different in our politics, faith, etc., and also helpful to one another as neighbors.

Here’s the “so what?” that goes with those “what?” kinds of details. It tells me that the core attributes, attitudes, and actions of people of peace look like they cut across all kinds of demographics. Maybe that means these are one kind of person who can help bridge the polarization that’s been getting more prominent in our society. What if people of peace were invited to facilitate conversations with the parameters of respect, dignity, hospitality, integrity? Something worth thinking about …

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Media Resources

Click on image for full-screen view.

The Lovings: An Intimate Portrait, with photographs by Grey Villet and text by Barbara Villet. An exquisite collection, released in the summer of 2017 for the 50th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision.

The Loving Story. This is an HBO documentary with background about Richard and Mildred Loving, and the historic court case on interracial marriage.

Loving. This drama has been noted for its authenticity to the story of the Lovings, and the intensity and comfortability of their relationship. It captures the essence of the many documentary photos and films from interviews with Richard and Mildred.

Peacemaking and Becoming People of Peace