Apr 122009
 
Authors: Ryan Sheine

In an effort to honor families who come from multi-racial backgrounds, Shades of CSU, a student organization that supports multi-racial relationships, and the Association for Student Activity Programming sponsored a commemorative dinner/Friday in honor of Loving Day.

Loving Day was named in honor of the day in which the Supreme Court overturned the 1967 ruling on Loving vs. Virginia, legalizing interracial marriages. /

Katherine Wormus, a CSU graduate student and treasurer of Shades of CSU, helped organize the Loving Day awareness dinner to shed light on the history on multi-racial relations on campus and to educate people about the growing multi-racial population./

“The culture in Fort Collins is welcoming,” Wormus said, “but we still have room to advance.”/

“There are more multi-racial people in Fort Collins than people realize. We want to raise awareness and give them a voice.”

Loving Day, which was first celebrated in 2003, is described by http://lovingday.org as being “about fighting prejudice through education and building a sense of community among people who engage in meaningful interracial and intercultural relationships.”/

Unable to legally marry in Virginia in 1958, Richard Loving, a white man for who the day is named, married his African-American girlfriend Mildred Jeter in Washington D.C.

However, after returning to Virginia, Loving and his wife, Mildred, were convicted of multiple crimes under Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a Virginia state law banning marriages between white and non-white persons./

The Lovings pled guilty and accepted a 25-year suspended sentence in return for leaving the state./

They moved to Washington D.C., where the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint on their behalf saying the statute violated the Fourteenth Amendment./

The Lovings and ACLU appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Loving v. Virginia, was overturned unanimously by the Supreme Court on June 12, 1967. The Court overturned their convictions and dismissed Virginia’s argument that the law was not discriminatory because it applied equally to both white and black persons./

The Loving Day Awareness Dinner hosted an ethnically diverse audience who came to celebrate multi-racial people and inter-racial couples. /

Earlie Thomas, a CSU graduate and defensive captain of the CSU football team who earned his degree in entomology, was the keynote speaker./

Thomas spoke extensively about how racial segregation affected his NFL career./

“I was slated to be a first round draft choice of the 1970 NFL draft,” Thomas said, “but wasn’t taken until the 11th round because I was billed as a risk.”/

The risk Thomas was speaking about was his marriage to his college girlfriend, who was white./

“Atlanta wanted to draft me but said that I would have to leave my wife behind in Colorado,” Thomas said. “We were a newly married couple, and I loved my wife, so I wasn’t going to leave her behind.”/

The last state law against interracial marriages was removed from the books in Alabama in 2000./ This law was not enforceable after the Loving decision, but it still shows the issue is still a current one./

Crystal Mizer, a junior Art education major, attended the dinner “for more diverse perspectives and to be cultured on the issue.”/

“We have made progress,” Mizer said, “But we still have room to grow. Having an African-American president who is also multi-racial speaks louder than words.”/

“There is a lot of ignorance on the issue because of people not knowing,” she said. “People should be educated on the issue, be around more diversity, and people need to stop separating themselves from diversity — which is an underlying cause to the problem.”

Staff writer Ryan Sheine can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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