When Marian Wright and Peter Edelman married in July 1968, their wedding was like an armistice. In April, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated; two months later, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was murdered — on June 6, Mrs. Edelman’s birthday. For years afterward, the couple would spend that day at Arlington Cemetery. The national tragedies were personal for the couple: Mrs. Edelman had worked for Dr. King, and Mr. Edelman had been an aide to the senator.
The New York Times covered the wedding as a news story, sending Nan Robertson, then a reporter for the paper’s Washington bureau. The ceremony was held on the lawn at the home of their friend, Adam Walinsky, a speechwriter for Senator Kennedy, in McLean, Va. The choice to marry in Virginia was deliberate: A year earlier, the state’s law against interracial marriage had been struck down in a suit brought by Richard and Mildred Loving. The Edelmans were the third interracial couple to marry there after the Lovings prevailed.
“I hate barriers,” Mrs. Edelman said. “And it was a time to bring down barriers.”