Banquet on 40 celebrates interracial marriage case
Students gathered in College Hall Friday night for the Loving Day Banquet to celebrate the Loving v. Virginia case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all race-related restrictions on marriage.
The landmark case was decided on June 12, 1967, after Mildred and Richard Loving, a mixed-race couple, pleaded their case to the Supreme Court.
“People don’t realize that 40 years ago a lot of our parents couldn’t be together,” said junior Miriam ben Abdallah, president of Mixed.
Mixed, a student group dedicated to celebrating people of mixed heritage, hosted the dinner along with other student groups like the Campus Programming Council, Association of Black Students, Connect 4, African Students Association, Social Justice Center, Association of Latin American Students and Asian Multicultural Council.
“They did a really good job of delivering the message and coupling it with the social aspect,” senior Kristen Scheitler-Ring said.
The banquet was filled with music, laughter, conversation and a diverse array of food as students from various cultural backgrounds came together to dine.
All 230 seats in College Hall were filled within the first 15 minutes of the doors opening. A full three-course meal was provided.
After a brief introduction by the organizers of Loving Day, WU-SLam sophomores Fiona O’Leary Sloan and Gabe Cralley reprised their Diwali performance with a piece about the repression of love during the partition of India and Pakistan.
As students ate their Mongolian beef, cucumber-and-tomato salads and other foods, the a cappella group Mosaic Whispers serenaded College Hall with a compilation of love songs.
Comedian Dan Nainan, who is half-Indian and half-Japanese, followed Mosaic Whispers, entertaining audiences with a stand-up act. Many of his jokes related to his own cultural heritage, while others came from a slideshow of funny pictures taken throughout his world travels. Nainan distributed free copies of his CD and DVD to students in the audience after his performance.
“I feel a special kinship with people of mixed race,” Nainan said. “When we were young, we were the oddballs….[Now] the mixed-race movement is getting very big.”
When Nainan was younger, he was asked, “What are you?” It was a question he used to resent. “In 10, 20 or 30 years, people won’t be asking,” Nainan said. “There’s more awareness, and it’s less of an issue.”
For senior Monis Khan, the evening’s emcee, the most exciting part of the evening was watching people come together, start conversations and begin to break down lingering racial barriers.
Though the legal obstacles have been removed, students said they felt present-day interracial relationships still carry a stigma today in certain regions and circles, even on campus.
“It’s really important that people understand that interracial marriage is still an issue,” freshman Matt Re said. “[The banquet] brings people together when we normally wouldn’t [meet].”
One critique of the event was that in the initial rush to grab a seat, some students were unable to intermingle as much with people from other cultures.
Mixed said it would continue to encourage this increased awareness on campus. Students were given pins depicting celebrities of mixed descent and other sayings to prompt conversation and promote awareness.
“We should be a place where everyone is included and loved,” said freshman Grace Feenstra, a member of Mixed.
According to Abdallah, Mixed will continue to advertise its general body meetings, where students can discuss legal, social and other issues pertaining to interracial relationships.
Despite minor technical difficulties, organizers felt they had accomplished their goals of educating the audience and fostering a sense of community.
“I found it really encouraging to see so many people come out to celebrate multiculturalism,” Mitchell said. “[The Loving Day Banquet] helped make the Wash. U. community even stronger.”