The Lovings: A Timeless Love Story

Even though Valentine’s Day was a little over a week ago, the spirit of the holiday is still fresh in our minds. Whether you celebrated the holiday with friends, family, or a significant other—or all three—the holiday provides a chance for all of us to acknowledge the ones we hold most dear. Last Thursday, we celebrated the holiday through the sharing of Valentines, candy, flowers, and other gifts.

We’d like to share something else with you: a love story.

While same-sex marriage may be the contested issue in the field of marriage these days, 35 years ago it was interracial marriage.

Richard and Mildred Loving. Photo by Grey Villet, Courtesy of HBO

Richard and Mildred Loving. Photo by Grey Villet, Courtesy of HBO.

Since 1967, interracial marriage has been legal in every state in the country, due to the landmark case Loving v. Virginia. The Lovings—Richard and Mildred—were an interracial couple that married in Washington, D.C. in 1958, but were arrested upon returning to their home state of Virginia, where interracial marriage was still illegal. They were faced with three options: leave the state or face a one-year jail sentence, live elsewhere together, or return to Virginia separately. As they began to miss their families and home state while living in D.C., they got in touch with the American Civil Liberties Union, at the suggestion of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. After they were met with frustrating results in the Virginia Supreme Court, they took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Nine years after they married, the Supreme Court not only ruled in the Lovings’ favor but also overturned anti-miscegenation laws country-wide.

Their phenomenal story of love was turned into a documentary last year by Nancy F. Buirski and Elisabeth Haviland James. Using photos and home video footage of the Lovings, The Loving Story depicts not only their struggle for equal rights, but also their real-life love story. The documentary was produced with a grant from the National Endowment of Humanities and originally premiered on HBO on February 14, 2012. As we celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day and Black History Month, The Loving Story serves as a timeless story of love and equality.

The documentary is also a part of Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, a four-part video series and education resource that will be sent to 500 communities across the nation to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Loving Story is available online at HBO.com, and it also continues to appear on the channel’s programming.

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  1. Pingback: Humanities Insights from a NEH Intern: Part 1 |

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