The film, Loving, tells the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who in 1958, fought Virginia law in their quest to legalize interracial love and marriage. Unable to prevail, the couple was forced to leave the state and was forbidden to return together for 25 years. As the civil rights movement gained momentum in the 1960s, the Lovings took their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
The Loving story is just one of many civil rights cases that could be the cornerstone of your next research paper.
Supreme Court rulings
The case of Loving v. Virginia made it all the way to the Supreme Court and on June 12, 1967, Chief Justice Earl Warren announced that the Court unanimously agreed in favor of the Lovings and that marriage was a fundamental right.
The site, CivilRights.org listed other, “Important Supreme Court Cases for Civil Rights,” which includes:
- 1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford: said that under the Constitution the slave Dred Scott was his master’s property and that the Missouri Compromise of 1821 was unconstitutional because it deprived slaveowners of their “property.”
- 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson: the Court upheld a Louisiana law requiring restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other public places to serve African Americans in separate, but ostensibly equal, accommodations.
- 1954 Brown v. Board of Education: concluded that the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place in our education system.
- 2014 Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action: Court upheld Michigan’s state constitutional amendment prohibiting state universities from considering race as part of its admissions process.
Many white Americans may think that racism in America ended with the election of President Obama in 2008. An April 5, 2016, article by Rmuse for PoliticsUSA.com, “Mississippi Interracial Couple Evicted For Being In An Interracial Marriage,” shows that racism still endures but has taken a new form.
The article described how Erica Flores Dunahoo, who is Hispanic-Native American and her husband, who is African-American, were evicted from their mobile home park when the landlord discovered that the couple was interracial. Landlord Gene Baker was very forthcoming in explaining his reason for the eviction to Mrs. Dunahoo.
The reason given for the eviction is based on Mississippi “religious freedom” laws that make it possible to discriminate against anyone who offends the individual’s or community sense of propriety.
“It is noteworthy that for the past four years pundits, legal experts, and political observers have warned that these ‘religious freedom and conscience laws’ were devised to allow any person to discriminate against anyone for any reason,” Rmuse said.
Race in America
In his book, What Can You Say? America’s National Conversation on Race, John Hartigan, Jr. analyzed a year’s worth of news stories as a way to understand American culture and challenge our existing notions of what is racial or not.
Published in 2010, the book followed race stories that made news headlines- including Don Imus’ remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, protests in Jena, Louisiana, and Barack Obama’s presidential campaign- to trace the shifting contours of mainstream U. S. public discussions of race. Focused on the underlying dynamics of American culture that shape this conversation, the central question posed in this book is, “How do we know when something is racial?”
“Political psychologists generally see ‘racial’ as a set of unconscious beliefs, anxieties, or motivations that can be triggered or manipulated by certain code words or primed with racial images. […] that race is something ‘submerged,’ encompassing a range of sentiments, beliefs, and assumptions that Americans typically express or address only through euphemism and innuendo,” Hartigan said.
In drawing attention to our national conversation on race, Hartigan ultimately offers a way to understand race in the totality of American culture, as a constantly evolving debate. As this book and current events demonstrate, the conversation is far from over.
Find in-depth analysis and information on social issues such as discrimination and prejudice at Questia.
Do you think that “religious freedom” laws are a form of discrimination? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.