29 Days Of Black History – Day 19: Loving

Release Date
11/4/16

Genre 
Drama/Biography

Rating
PG-13

Director
 Jeff Nichols

Studio(s) 
Raindog Films, Big Beach Films, Focus Features

Running Time
123 mins

Cast 
Joel Edgerton as Richard Loving
Ruth Negga as Mildred Loving
Nick Kroll as Bernie Cohen
Michael Shannon as Grey Villet
Will Dalton as Virgil
Terri Abney as Garnet
Alano Miller as Raymond
Marton Csokas as Sheriff Brooks
Sharon Blackwood as Lola Loving
Christopher Mann as Theoliver
Winter-Lee Holland as Musiel Byrd-Jeter
Jon Bass as Phil Hirschkop

Details:  Film tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs in the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court (the Warren Court) decision Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Richard and Mildred Loving

Story:   In 1958, Richard Loving, a white construction worker in Caroline County, Virginia, falls in love with a local black woman, Mildred Jeter.  Once Mildred discovers that she is pregnant, they decide to marry, but knowing that interracial marriage violates Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws, they drive to Washington, D.C. to tie the knot.  Richard plans to build a house for Mildred less than a mile from her family home.

Soon afterward, Mildred’s home is raided. The Sheriff tells Richard that their marriage license has no validity in Virginia and they are both arrested.  The couple plead guilty to breaking the anti-miscegenation law and are sentenced to one year in prison. However, the judge suspends the sentence, on condition that they not return to Virginia together for at least 25 years. The Lovings move to Washington but briefly return to Caroline County so their first child, Sidney, can be delivered by Richard’s mother, who is a midwife. Arrested again, they are cleared when their lawyer informs the judge that he erroneously advised them they could return.

Mildred and Richard have two other children together but eventually Mildred grows frustrated by being away from the country.  Her frustration grows when she watches the March on Washington and she writes to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for help. Kennedy refers them to the American Civil Liberties Union. Lawyer Bernard S. Cohen takes the case and confers with constitutional law expert Phil Hirschkop. They conclude that the Lovings’ case has a good chance of going all the way to the Supreme Court and could lead to the overturning of similar anti-miscegenation laws across the nation.

After a minor auto accident involving one of their children, the Lovings decide to slip back into Virginia while their case moves through the courts. Their case gains national attention, and is profiled in Life magazine.  The state contends that people of different races were never intended to live together, and goes as far as to suggest the Lovings’ children are bastards. The state Supreme Court refuses to set aside the Lovings’ conviction. Undeterred, Cohen and Hirschkop appeal to the federal Supreme Court.  Before going to Washington, Cohen asks Richard if he has a message for the justices. Richard replies, “Tell the judge I love my wife.”

Several weeks later, the Supreme Court unanimously holds that laws prohibiting interracial marriage are unconstitutional. The film ends with the Lovings back in Caroline County, building their dream house which Richard began designing at the opening of the film. Over a wide shot showing family and friends at work, text informs the viewer that Richard died, a victim of a car accident, seven years later, and that Mildred, who never remarried, continued to live in the house Richard built for her until her death in 2008. Source:  Wikipedia; IMDB; Biography.

Trailer: