Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FOREVER, I DO: A Loving Dedication

For the month of February, Loose-Id will release titles with a wedding theme in support of those who want to love and marry who they want. Forever, I Do co-authored by myself and Taige Crenshaw is our contribution to a quartet of special themed releases called "Marriage For All".

When the call went out to submit a proposal for "Marriage For All" our publisher was looking for stories featuring everything from Bridezillas or Always a Bridesmaid but Never the bride, to a gay man who's planned his wedding since he was five, but finds society not as welcoming to his idea of eternal bliss.

Even though I didn't think we would get the contract, Taige Crenshaw and I submitted a proposal and to our delight and surprise they liked itour story of an interracial relationship set in the deep South. Although race plays a factor in Forever, I Do, the real conflict arises when the hero, Ashley Benedict, wedding planner extraordinare, accidentally takes a taste of his client's bewitched wedding cake samples.

Known for their good luck, Rosaline Fletcher's wedding cakes are infused with a loving spell, which produces long-lasting marriages where the men never stray, the women don't nag, and 99.7 percent never face each other on opposite ends of a court room. And as you can guess, after tasting the heroine's cake samples, Ashley suddenly becomes desirous of Rosalind's other "goodies" and won't stop until he has tasted all of them.

While writing the story, in 8 harrowing days no less, we had alot of fun and stumbled across a little irony. While writing the cake tasting scene. where Ashley becomes bewitched, we came up with a name for the room where the bride and groom are left alone in order for the spell to take affect. This room came to be called The Loving Room.

While halfway through the story, I realized that The Loving Room had the same name as an interracial couple who'd fought to remain married and raise their children in Virginia. And who won a ground breaking case Loving Vs. Virgina , which overturned America's miscegenation laws in 1967.

Realizing this, I became fascinated with their story of how a quiet boy who grew up down a country road from a little girl and fell in love with her and decided to marry her. But, Richard Loving was white and Mildred Jeter (yes, she's a distant cousin of baseball player Derek Jeter) was black. And at the time in the state of Virginia, their marrying would result in a felony charge and time in jail.

In order to skirt the Racial Integrity Act, Mildred and Richard drove 80 miles to Washington, D. C. to be married by a minister they'd picked out of a phone book. Upon returning to Virginia, the happy couple settled back into life with their marriage certificate proudly tacked to their bedroom wall.

However, after less than two months of wedded bliss, an anonymous tip sent the local sheriff to the happy couple's home in the middle of the night in hopes of catching them in a sexual act (another crime at the time).

Caught in their sleep, the couple were arrested and charged under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia, and Section 20-59, which classified "miscegenation" as a felony punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years.

After Richard spent one night in jail and a pregnant Mildred five, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years, if they left the state.

The Lovings packed up and moved back to Washington D.C. But after five years, the couple became homesick and wanted to move back to Virginia. So, Mildred sat down and on lined notebook paper wrote Robert Kennedy who referred her to the ACLU, who on their behalf filed a motion in the state trial court to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence on the grounds that the violated statutes ran counter to the Fourteenth Amendment.

While preparing their motion, the couple's lawyer, Bernard Cohen, remembers Mr. Loving advising him to, “Tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

Of course, the state courts wouldn't budge, so their case went all the way to the Supreme Court. After eight long years and many setbacks, the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously in the Loving's favor.

Inspired by their great sacrifice we've dedicated our book Forever, I Do, which was released today to the Lovings, who weren't looking for fame or fortune just the right to love.

Click to read an excerpt of Forever, I Do

by Koko Brown


Bekki Lynn said...

Wonderful inspiration, Koko! Thanks for sharing.

Forever, I Do is a fantastic, fun story. I loved it.

Koko Brown said...

Thanks Bekki! I enjoyed writing it.

Lisa said...

Wow great inspiration. Everyone should have the right to love whomever they want as long as they are of legal age.

Savanna Kougar said...

Koko, talk about serendipity and synchronicity! How your story connects to their struggle simply to live together in love.

I can't get over the beauty of their picture... they are so much in love and love each other as well. We should all be that fortunate.

Congrats on your release.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Wonderful blog, Koko! Powerful love story! Happy Release Day and happpy sales!

Sarashifter said...

Love the blog Koko!! That story is so's no wonder that you were inspired so beautfully!
Thanks for sharing :)