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Loving Festival Focuses on Racial Justice

The city will give you all her loving on Thursday (June 12th). Through art and education outreach, the New Orleans Loving Festival honors Richard and Mildred Loving, the interracial couple whose 1967 landmark civil rights lawsuit, “Loving v. Virginia”, which ended race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.


Mildred Loving was African American and Native American. Richard Loving was white. When Mildred became pregnant by Richard, she and her beau traveled from Virginia to DC to tie the knot. When they returned to Virginia, they were apprehended by police and charged with evading Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws, which classified intermarriage as a felony that was punishable by one to five years in prison. They were sentenced to one year, but allowed a 25 year suspension if they left the state of Virginia. 


The couple faced difficulty and isolation after they moved to Washington DC and so and with the help of the ACLU, they started a series of lawsuits that ended with the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision on June 12, 1967 to overturn convictions.


The festival in New Orleans was inspired by an incident in 2009 where a Louisiana Justice of the Peace refused to grant a marriage license to a multiracial couple in Houma. 


“When I heard, it bothered me," says Jerald L. White, a festival organizer. "I wanted to come up with a constructive community response to the situation. That was the birth of the New Orleans Loving Festival. While it does honor the legacy of Richard and Mildred and their legacy of landmark civil rights festive the core of the festival is challenging racism through the arts and other programing. We celebrate their legacy on Loving Day. But it is more than a remembrance of them, its also trying to engage artists, activists and others for racial justice."


In order to inspire engagement, festival organizers use a diversity of methods including film, comedy shows, art exhibits, music, lectures and more.


“We want there to be multiple points of entry,” says White. “Each year we get more and more folks involved.”


Today at the Antenna Gallery (3718 St. Claude Ave.), a photo exhibit of multiracial families entitled MANY COLORS will be up, honoring the Lovings and their legacy. The gallery will also be serving free ice cream and non-dairy frozen treats (first come first serve) with the accompaniment of music, kids activities, a slide show and a photographer on hand to take family portraits.  They will also be announcing the winners of their Youth Essay Competition. 


This years featured film is an interactive documentary short entitled “Middle Passage”. The film highlights local artist and activist Marcus Akinlana and his views on the importance of cultural and economic self-determination and how art can be a driving force for changing society.


Another Loving Day Festival participant is the Stella Jones Gallery. The gallery is currently featuring the work of Samantha Wall, a Portland based artist showing a drawing series on multiracial women. 


Yesterday there was a reading entitled “NATIVE. HOMELAND. EXILE.” which showcased several women of color telling their coming of age stories in America’s New South. 


Admission is free. For more info visit, The facebook page, or

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