50th Wedding Anniversary Tribute
Fifty years ago today my parents were married. Three years and one day before their wedding, the Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia. Coincidentally enough, my parents moved to Virginia ten years later and where they live to this day. But the first house they were supposed to move into was "no longer available" when my white mother was joined by my black father to sign the lease they agreed to over the phone. The Fair Housing Act passed in 1968. This happened in 1980. This is just one of their experiences of discrimination over decades of marriage.
I would not exist without a landmark court decision. I was born and raised in a loving home by parents who emphasized advancement through education and unconditionally supported me even when they weren’t exactly sure what career I was pursuing (“Matthew, remind me again... what is a genetic counselor?”). However, a major civil rights law did not stop my parents from being denied their first home merely because of the color of my father’s skin.
It’s beyond obvious that Black Lives are valued less in our society. It’s equally clear that we must fix this. Some change may come from the courts or from new laws (please vote), but nothing changes unless we support individuals and groups who are tirelessly fighting on the right side of history.
In honor of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, Shannon and I have donated $5,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Thank you to everyone who has already joined this fight and for those who have reached out to offer support to our family over the last few weeks.
Although my parents would never speak of themselves as pioneers, they are. I admire their courage and resolve, and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities they've given me. Thank you mom and dad. I can’t wait to celebrate with you in person.
Matthew & Shannon Thomas