The Library will be hosting the first of a four-part film series made possible by a grant to the University Library from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEH Created Equal project uses the power of documentary films to encourage public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America. The four films that are part of this project (The Loving Story, Jan. 23; The Abolitionists, Feb. 20; Freedom Riders, April 3; and Slavery by Another Name, April 17, all at 7 p.m. in LARC 109) tell the remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo, from slavery to segregation. Created Equal is part of the Bridging Cultures initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, produced in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. More information on the project may be found at http://createdequal.neh.gov/
Lt. Governor Joe Garcia will kick off the first film in the series The Loving Story beginning at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 in Hoag Recital Hall, with a discussion of the Loving v. Virginia case depicted in the first film. A 17-minute excerpt from the 77-minute film will be shown at the beginning of the Jan. 16 event. The film will be shown in its entirety at 7 p.m. on January 23 in Library and Academic Resources Center 109. The Loving Story narrates the lives of Mildred and Richard Loving and their fight for the recognition of their marriage, all the way to the Supreme Court. The film’s immediacy derives from the inclusion of little-known footage dating from the 1960s depicting the daily life of the couple and their three children while they were in hiding in a house in Virginia.
When Mildred and Richard Loving were arrested in Virginia in July of 1958 for violating a state law that banned marriage between people of different races, such laws had been on the books in most states since the 17th century. But the Lovings never expected to be woken up in their bedroom in the middle of the night and arrested. The documentary brings to life the Lovings' marriage and the legal battle that followed through little-known filmed interviews and photographs shot for Life magazine. The Lovings had broken the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 forbidding interracial marriage. Faced with prison, the Lovings took a plea bargain that mandated they leave Virginia for 25 years. They moved to Washington, D.C., but missed their home, family, and rural community. In 1963, Mildred Loving wrote a letter to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who suggested that she contact the American Civil Liberties Union. Two young lawyers, Robert Cohen and Phillip Hirschkop, argued the case through state and federal courts. In 1967, the US Supreme Court heard Loving v. Virginia. The justices voted unanimously to strike down the Virginia law with Chief Justice Warren writing that “the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” The landmark ruling led to the overturning of miscegenation laws in 15 states.