By Camille Jackson
Staff Writer, Tolerance.org
Ken Tanabe, the child of an interracial couple, was a good student, got all A’s and even attended graduate school — all without learning anything about the 1967 Supreme Court decision that allowed his parents to legally marry and conceive him.
Tanabe, 27, accidentally stumbled upon information about Loving v. Virginia while doing a Google search.
He learned that, before the court decision, states were able to separate and punish interracial couples. In some states, violations were punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Many of the so-called miscegenation laws included Asian people and Native Americans.
"I was shocked because I didn’t know about it even though I am a product of an interracial couple," Tanabe said. "It dawned on me that there’s a generation gap; younger people who didn’t live with that law don’t know anything about it."
With that in mind, and inspiration from his Belgian mother and Japanese father, Tanabe built a website dedicated to Loving v. Virginia. Lovingday.org encourages visitors to host Loving Day parties on June 12 to commemorate the groundbreaking decision.
The site contains legal history, personal stories and links to other resources. Tanabe also encourages visitors to celebrate the June 12 anniversary by having backyard gatherings, dinner parties or "spending time with someone you love." This year, he knows of parties planned in several states.
Tanabe compares the impact of Loving v. Virginia to Brown v. the Board of Education (1954). Learning about the Brown decision helps people understand civil rights, just as the Loving decision teaches about the unfairness of miscegenation laws.
"At the time [the miscegenation laws] were common knowledge, but once the laws were changed it stopped making headlines and being a legal issue," Tanabe said.
So how do people learn about these things? His two-year-old website aims to fill the gap.
Tanabe said he was inspired by the grassroots push to celebrate Juneteenth, commemorating the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas, first learned they were free.
Tanabe says he wants to create a day that "people feel is close to their heart" and can grow into a time when everyone knows the history of Loving.
This essay originally appeared on tolerance.org, the news and activism Website of The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama.