Mildred Loving passed away last week.
It’s no surprise if you don’t know who she was. She never sought out publicity; she just wanted to get married. But she was black, she was in love with a white man, and in Virginia in 1958, that was against the law. It took nine years and the United States Supreme Court (Loving vs. Virginia) to make it legal. And so the simple wish for a quiet, ordinary life with the person you love led to a landmark decision that changed the laws in seventeen states.
Revolutions are started by quiet people who just want to change little things. Rosa Parks wanted to sit in an empty seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Oliver Brown wanted his daughter to go to a local school instead of walking twenty blocks to a black school in Topeka, Kansas. And a small group of gay men wanted to gather in peace at the Stonewall in Greenwich Village in 1969 and be treated with dignity.
The world is full of people who stand on top of the world and shout about injustice and demand revolution. They move a lot of air and spin a lot of wheels, but it’s the quiet people like Mildred Loving, with no thought of publicity or megaphones, who get the job done.