With a fitting last name like Loving, the lives of Richard Loving and wife Mildred Jeter are the inspiration for the historical drama (also called Loving) about their monumental 1967 Supreme Court case. The story about the interracial couple certainly feels relevant amidst a presidential election in which one of the candidates has brought racially charged rhetoric to the fore.
But before you see the film, here's a few things you should know about the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, as well as their children.
They were arrested in Virginia — while asleep in their beds.
Around five weeks after they were married — the marriage itself was in Washington, D.C. — the county sheriff in Central Point, Virginia, arrested the couple in their bedroom in the middle of the night. Reportedly, when Mildred Loving told the sheriff that she was Richard's wife, the sheriff responded, "That's no good here."
The chilling sequence is seen briefly in the trailers, echoing the sheriffs' words. The couple spent a year in prison prior to the Supreme Court ruling.
Their Supreme Court case had a historic ruling in their favor.
The historic Supreme Court decision of Loving v. Virginia was ruled in their favor, which concluded that Virginia had violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. In turn, all state laws banning interracial marriage were also invalidated. It was the same Chief Justice, Earl Warren, who also made the historic decision in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education law that prohibited segregated schooling.
The Loving v. Virginia ruling was important on a grand scale, but Richard told Life Magazine in 1966 that the primary motivation for their efforts was the love he and Mildred shared for one another.
"We have thought about other people, but we are not doing it just because somebody had to do it and we wanted to be the ones," he said. "We are doing it for us—because we want to live here."
What happened to the Loving family post-court case.
Eight years after the court ruled in their favor, Richard Loving was killed in a car accident in Caroline County, Virginia, caused by a drunk driver. Mildred, who was also in the car, lost her right eye. On the eve of what would have been the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision — and a year prior to Mildred's death in 2008 from pneumonia — she expressed support for LGBTQ marriage rights.
Part of her statement reads:
The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
Peggy Loving Fortune is the last surviving child of Richard and Mildred's three children. When her mother died, Fortune said she wanted people to remember her mother as "strong and brave, yet humble — and believed in love." Based on the critical acclaim Loving has received, moviegoers will also be aware of how powerful, and significant, their story was.
"With same-sex partners still fighting for marriage equality, the Lovings' struggle remains as relevant to American culture as it was 50 years ago," Brian Truitt wrote in a review for USA Today. "The real artistry of Loving, though, is in the quiet grace [Ruth Negga] and [Joel Edgerton] bring to one of recent history's most important romances."
Loving is currently in theaters. Watch the trailer below: