Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Loving Day Lower East Side NYC Event 2011

         I’m usually “in the know” about events going on in and around the world as I tend to get my name on several invite lists. However, sometimes I don’t hear about an event until its annual anniversary gets advertised. This was the case with “Loving Day BBQ” held at Solar One on 22nd street and East River Drive and also simultaneously at various venues around the world. The organizers of Loving Day are trying to make this a world wide holiday that would be celebrated on the day the Loving’s won their court case.

         Solar one is a solar powered giant white tent which housed the guests of the eighth annual Loving Day BBQ on June 12th 2011. “Loving Day” is the annual celebration of the Supreme Court case Loving V. State of Virginia. This was the infamous 1958 case where Loving protested the state’s law that interracial couples could not get married meaning his upcoming wedding would be illegal. 

       The judge ruled against him and he and his wife were given the choice of either spending up to three years in jail or being banished to another state for 25 years. They choose to move to Washington, DC but still couldn’t get married and were only allowed to live together.

        The Loving's faced the hardships of racism everywhere they went. No one wanted to rent an apartment to them, they were away from their family and were taunted everywhere they went. Finally Loving’s fiancée, Mildred, wrote a letter asking for help from then Attorney General, Robert Kennedy. The letter was then forwarded to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in New York who helped them to find a lawyer that would represent them. 

        After years of judges denying their case, a judge finally allowed them to legally be able to marry and return to live in Virginia and it only took them nine years to win their case. The judge’s decision affected everyone as he overturned the law that kept the Loving’s from getting married. Now anyone from any race can marry another from any race they choose.

           And now every year, for the past eight years several interracial and non-interracial couples and families come to the Solar One tent to celebrate the court’s ruling. The loving Day org has partnered up with several other organizations to organize this event every year. They feature two to three DJs spinning live beats for the crowd to dance to. They have a staff of about 100 volunteers to help sell t-shirts, distribute food and drinks, and check people in. This event gave out free hot dogs, burgers (regular, turkey and veggie) and every condiment you could think of.

            Asahi beer was also represented as beer of choice for this event. Asahi was nice enough to offer a one hour block of free beer. Once the hour was up you had to pay $4 per beer which wasn’t bad except the line for the free beer was about two hours long. Once off the beer line, you pretty much ended up on the food line, not like you had much of a choice as it was so crowded you were herded along with the rest of the group.

           Loving day featured an area where you could register to donate bone marrow and an arts and crafts area for the kids. There was face painting, coloring, poster making and balloon animals. I think it was a great idea to make the event focus on the kids as it’s great to have them understand where they came from. I have a lot of multiracial friends that don’t know or fully understand who they are. 

           The world tends to think in terms of black and white but what do you say when you’re mixed. I think most of us who grew up in the 1980s grew up during a time of change. We were the first generation to not have experienced segregation first hand, we only heard about it through our parents’ stories and school history classes.

           And now there are so many interracial couples, their kids, like those who attended the Loving Day BBQ, will be the first generation born with out any previous parental experiences of what occurred in the past. My generation, and generations after us, are fortunate enough to not have experienced the madness of racial tension from the past; we are evolving into a bright rainbow colored future.

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