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Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle at Arkansas Tech University: The Loving Story

"Created Equal" is a film, lecture, and discussion series about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in U.S. history. The program provides opportunities for students, public, and scholars to discuss historical research and learning.

The Loving Story

What Do Asian-Americans Owe the Civil Rights Movement?

The Japanese-American Citizens League supported the Loving's case, as did the NAACP Legal defense fund and other civil rights organizations.  Read about how Asian Americans were affected by legal and societal changes related to the Civil Rights Movement in Scot Nakagawa's ChangeLab / RaceFiles blog post, "Three Things Asian Americans Owe to the Civil Rights Movement".  Nakagawa discusses this post, and the larger historical context in more detail in this interview with Tell Me More, a National Public Radio (NPR) program. 

About this film

The Loving Story

The moving account of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Their struggle culminated in a landmark Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia (1967) which overturned anti-miscegenation laws in the United States.  Directed by Nancy Buirski; produced by Nancy Buirski and Elisabeth Haviland James. A co-production of Augusta Films and HBO Films. Distributed by Icarus Films.

Learn more about the film at this page:

Mildred and Richard Loving knew it was technically illegal for them to live as a married couple in Virginia because she was of African American and Native American descent and he was white. But they never expected to be woken up in their bedroom and arrested one night in 1958. 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.

Historical Background

After World War II, civil rights activists built upon a mobilizing tradition within Black communities that included sit-ins, strikes, and protest marches. Grassroots groups around the nation relied on nonviolent tactics and multiple campaigns to end segregation. National organizations, among them the NAACP and ACLU, worked to end segregation by bringing cases before the Supreme Court and the federal government. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that public schooling was to be desegregated with “deliberate speed.” Hopes were high that legalized discrimination could be ended and equal rights for African Americans won.

In many cases, the ultimate success of the major legal and political battles of the civil rights era rested on the action, courage, and persistence of individuals. Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were two such individuals who changed history. In July 1958, they returned home after marrying in Washington, DC, and were arrested in the middle of the night. 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, DC, 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, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, argued the case through state and federal courts. In 1967, the U.S. 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 fifteen states.

The film 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.

Dr. James Moses, Professor of History will led a discussion after the screening of The Loving Story.

The Lovings at Home

Photo by Grey Villet. Richard and Mildred Loving with their children Peggy, Donald, and Sidney in their living room, King and Queen County, Virginia, April 1965. © Estate of Grey Villet