In 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter married in Washington D.C., having left the state of Virginia to do so because of the Racial Integrity Act that had been in place in their home state since 1924. Upon their return, the couple, being mixed-race, were charged with, quote, “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth." They pleaded guilty in 1959 and spent one year in jail, after which they had to leave the state.
In 1964, the couple sued the state of Virginia. Their case reached the Supreme Court in 1967, and the court struck down all state laws forbidding mixed-race marriages. Several decades later, this ruling allowed people like Zyda Culpepper Mellon, who is African American, to marry her white husband, and for Ricardee Franks, who is mixed, to also marry a white man.
Zyda Culpepper Mellon is an African American operatic soprano based in North Augusta, South Carolina. She is a recent graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio program where she earned a Master of Music degree at the University of Maryland College Park. Zyda currently lives with her husband, Jacob Mellon, and their two cats, Autumn and Tony.
Ricardee Franks was born in California and raised in Maryland by a single mother from Trinidad. She moved to Trinidad at nine years old when her mom remarried and has since moved back to Maryland, graduated college and grad school in the U.S., and started a family of her own.
This episode was produced by Julián Esteban Torres López, Aïcha Martine Thiam, and Nicole Zelniker.
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