Indianapolis to host its first Loving Day Celebration

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Loving Day
The Loving Day celebration takes place from 1-4 p.m. on June 8 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. (Getty Images)

Indianapolis is celebrating love this month — in more than one way.

Loving Day is a national day of celebration in honor of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia on June 12, 1967. The unanimous ruling, which abolished prohibitions against interracial marriage, would go down in history and change lives — and love stories — for decades to come.

Now, the City of Indianapolis is paying homage to that history with a party on June 8 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
“I think it’s important. I hope we do it annually, frankly,” Greg Ballard, former Mayor of Indianapolis, told the Recorder. “Interracial marriages are actually becoming quite common these days. Many people don’t know that it wasn’t common just not that long ago, and so it’s an appreciation of that.”

Ballard reached out to community organizations to find partners to help give Indianapolis the Loving Day celebration he believed the city deserved, which did not take long. The International Center quickly jumped on board with the idea, as did the Pacers, the Colts and the United Negro College Fund as sponsors.

Richard Loving, a white man, and his wife Mildred Loving, who was Black and Native American, were arrested and thrown in jail in 1958 for being married in the state of Virginia.  At the time, interracial marriage was illegal in the state of Virgina — and many other states.

The Lovings’ lawyers argued interracial marriage laws stemmed from slavery laws and were rooted in white supremacy, according to lovingday.org. These laws applied to all people of color, not just Black Americans.

Nine years after their arrest, the Lovings won their case and changed history for interracial couples and inheritance in every state. Today, Loving Day is celebrated in different areas around the country to honor the Lovings’ fight, and Ballard said he was adamant on adding Indianapolis to the list.

“It’s not really in people’s minds,” Ballard said. “My marriage would have been illegal just a few years before I got married. It’s my lifetime. I was 12 years old when this decision came down. This is not ancient history.”

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Indianapolis’ first Loving Day celebration aims to be a day of fun and fellowship between Hoosiers to honor a “good moment in American history,” Ballard said. The event will feature Rafael Sanchez as an MC and include a diverse array of catered food for guests, activities for kids, art, live music and a scholar who will lead a discussion about the constitution and the historic case. 

There will also be a video series of four Indianapolis-based interracial couples sharing their stories, and Ballard will perform a vow renewal.
Tiffany Curtis and her husband Craig Curtis are one of the four interracial couples featured in the video series.

The Curtises, who have been married for 21 years and are raising a family in Indianapolis, said they did not know about Loving Day or what it represented until now.

“I just thought it was cool to be able to celebrate it, even though neither one of us knew it was a thing at first, and that you really couldn’t be married if you were an interracial couple,” Tiffany Curtis said. “It made us feel blessed that we didn’t have to go through some of the struggles that people did before us.”

The video series focuses on each couple’s stories to showcase how they met and fell in love as an interracial couple. Craig Curtis said he and his wife are originally from California, where it was more common to see interracial couples, and they have been fortunate enough to not face any hardships or inherent racism as a couple.

“We’ve raised some beautiful kids in Indiana … they’ve excelled far beyond wherever I felt like I excelled at their age,” Craig Curtis said. “I love my wife more today than when I met her 23 years ago. So, I think I just reflected like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that was a law.’”

Celebrating Loving Day and honoring the history behind it is important for a brighter future, and Craig Curtis said it scars him to think that there was a time in America where he would not have been allowed to marry his wife (though he said he would face jail time to do it anyway).

The message of the celebration is simple, he said. Just love your spouse, love your partner no matter what and stick beside them.

“Love who you want, and the rest will fall in place,” Tiffany Curtis said.

The Loving Day celebration takes place from 1-4 p.m. on June 8 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Tickets are $20 and free for kids. Guests are encouraged to park in the Virginia Avenue Garage. For more information or to register, visit internationalcenter.org.

Contact Arts & Culture Reporter Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848. Follow her on X @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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