Been to the movies lately? Then maybe, like me, you’ve seen the trailer for Loving, a soon-to-be-released film about Mildred and Richard Loving, the Virginia couple jailed for their interracial marriage in 1958. The preview shows several disturbing scenes and menacing encounters, including a chilling middle-of-the-night arrest.
Watching the trailer prompted me to re-read The Case for Loving (Arthur Levine Books, 2015)—written by Selina Alko and illustrated by Selina and her husband, Sean Qualls—a picture book about the same couple.
Given how tense I felt watching the trailer, I wondered how Selina and Sean managed to tell this story in a way that’s appropriate for a young audience—so that it engages a child’s interest, but isn’t overly frightening and doesn’t get bogged down in the long legal battle.
Not surprisingly, the book touches only lightly on the legal issues. And while it doesn’t completely omit the frightening moments—there’s a spread devoted to that middle-of-the-night arrest—it doesn’t dwell on them either.
Rather, the emphasis is on two concepts children understand very well:
Love and fairness.
The Lovings could have moved to another state where interracial marriage was legal—and they did, in fact, relocate for a time. But they wanted to be in Virginia, near their families, where they had roots. And so they fought, all the way to the Supreme Court, for the right to have their marriage recognized in their home state.
Because they loved each other, and it was only fair. Kids get that.
It’s been nearly 50 years since the Supreme Court ruled state bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional (Loving v. Virginia, 1967). Still, the Loving’s story remains relevant to current issues of race relations and marriage equality. The personal Author’s Note (the book’s creators are themselves an interracial couple) and resources listed at the back offer more opportunities to dig in and discuss these issues in greater depth. For more good stuff, there’s a great interview with Selina and Sean here.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. The winner of the Hey, Coach! Giveaway is Susie Sawyer.