The story of Richard and Mildred Loving has been adapted into a major motion picture ("Loving"), released in 2016 and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. But before that, there were the real people.
In Nancy Buirski’s beautifully spare 2012 documentary film, a fundamental truth about the history of segregation is revealed almost in passing –- that so much of white Americans’ racial fear was tied to a kind of sexual panic. And amidst the shameful system of anti-miscegenation laws that dotted the southern United States well into the 20th century (the most tangible byproduct of those anxieties) lies the story of Richard Loving, a white Virginian, and his half-black, half-Native American wife, Mildred. Their fight to avoid both prison and exile for their “criminal” marriage is perhaps the most beautiful love story ever written into American case law. Using archival interviews with the couple, current interviews with their children and the ACLU attorneys who took up their cause, as well as original recordings of the oral arguments that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision striking down laws against interracial marriage, the film argues that, then or now, the law should not traffic in matters of love.
For its gorgeous and sympathetic telling of a couple’s fight to persevere in the face of injustice, The Loving Story received a 2012 Peabody Award.