Before June of 1967, sixteen states still prohibited interracial marriage, including Virginia, the home of Richard Perry Loving, a white man, and his wife, Mildred Loving, a woman of African-American and Native-American descent. Years prior in June 1958, the couple traveled to Washington, D.C. where interracial marriage was legal to get married. However, upon their return to Virginia they were arrested and sentenced to one year in jail for violating the state’s Racial Integrity Act. At the time the trial judge suspended the Lovings’ sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that they leave the state and not return to Virginia together for 25 years.
The judge stated:
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
The Lovings reluctantly left their home and went on to live in Washington, D.C. where they had three children named Peggy, Donald and Sidney. But the injustice they suffered in Virginia still hurt deep so they decided to ask the ACLU to aid them in getting the Virginia decision reversed and in June 1967, the court unanimously declared Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 unconstitutional and ended all race-based marriage bans in the U.S.
Now, nearly 45 years after the landmark Loving vs. Virginia case, HBO is taking an intimate look at the story of Richard and Mildred Loving with their documentary “The Loving Story.” Set to air on Valentine’s Day at 9PM, the film “tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving to examine the drama, the history, and the current state of interracial marriage and tolerance in the United States,” according to the film’s official site. “The Loving Story” has enjoyed sold-out screenings at festivals and special events and has already won numerous awards and accolades like the Screenplay Award at the ScreenDocs Documentary Festival.
Will you be watching?