The loving story, a story of enduring love that led to a Civil Rights case, Debuts on Valentine’s Day during Black History Month — Exclusively on HBO
Richard and Mildred Loving appear to be a normal couple. They grew up and fell in love in the same Virginia town. Of course, they did have some differences. Mildred was half-black and half-Native American. Richard was white. While this might not turn many heads today, in 1958 when the couple made the decision to get married, their marriage was declared illegal by their home state.
Realizing what the couple had, they fought back and changed history in a Supreme Court case that overturned bans on interracial marriage in 16 states. This exclusive documentary will appear on HBO on Valentine’s Day. The Loving Story is an uplifting saga of two unlikely Civil Rights heroes. Tune in on February 14 at 9 PM EST.
Other HBO playdates: Feb. 14 (5:15 a.m.), 18 (3:30 p.m.), 23 (1:00 p.m.), 26 (9:00 a.m.) and 29 (12:30 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Feb. 19 (12:20 p.m.), 24 (5:15 p.m.) and 29 (8:00 p.m.)
More on the Lovings
Married in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were arrested in their home state of Virginia five weeks later and subsequently convicted of the felony crime of miscegenation. To avoid a one-year jail sentence, they agreed to leave the state, and could only return to Virginia separately. But that was just the beginning of their story.
The Loving Story offers never-before-seen vintage film and stills of the family that was shot in 1965 and 1966. In addition to this footage, there are present-day interviews with the daughter of the Lovings’, Peggy, as well as neighbors, police, and the ACLU lawyers who argued the case in front of the 1967 US Supreme Court.
The luminous, newly discovered 16mm footage of the Lovings and their lawyers, which was shot by filmmakers Hope Ryden and Abbot Mills, and photographs by acclaimed LIFE photographer Grey Villet capture the intimate realities of the Lovings’ daily lives. The prints were given to the Loving family by the photographer 45 years ago and given to the filmmakers in 2010. (A selection of these photos is currently on view at the International Center of Photography in New York through May 6.)
When the Lovings were unable to have their convictions overturned at the state level, ACLU attorneys went to a federal level and Loving v. Virginia was heard by the US Supreme Court. On April 10, 1967 Richard Loving spoke to the justices through his attorneys by saying, “Tell the court that I love my wife, and it is unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”
The decision came on June 12, 1967 and it was unanimous. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Lovings. From that moment on the prohibition of interracial marriage was stopped in 16 states. This was a decision that continues to shape America’s attitude towards marriage to this day.
Neither dedicated activists nor participants in the protests of their time, the Lovings spent nine years simply trying to be able to live legally in their home state, and on their journey became little-known heroes of the Civil Rights era. They didn’t ask to be heroes. They just wanted to be happy.
About the Filmmaker:
Director and producer Nancy Buirski says the message of the film is both timeless and timely. Although depicting a universal love story, it comes at a time when, she says, “white supremacy groups are growing in the U.S. – in the very communities that perpetuated and maintained anti-miscegenation laws up to the 1967 Supreme Court ruling. While we’ve elected the first mixed-race president, we also recently witnessed a Louisiana justice of the peace refusing to marry a mixed-race couple.
“Contemporary parallels are gently embedded in the Lovings’ fight for marriage equality. Today, 45 years after Loving v. Virginia, Perry v. Schwarzenegger is making its way to the Supreme Court. This is a story not of just civil rights, but of human rights and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of religion, race or gender.”