I love looking for new books to share with my students during African-American history month. This year, I found quite a few that I really enjoyed for all ages. This book really resonated with my fourth and fifth graders.
The Case for Loving is the story of the marriage of Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, an African-American woman. The Lovings lived in Central Point, Virginia. In 1959, interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia and 16 other states; so, the Lovings went to Washington, D.C. to get married. Upon return to their home in Virginia, the Lovings were arrested for illegal cohabitation and sent to jail. (I heard gasps from my students. It does make you gasp, doesn’t it?) They were told to move out of Virginia if they wanted to live together. The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C. and had three children; but, they were not happy with their new urban life. The Lovings wanted to return to Virginia where they could live in the countryside. “By now it was 1966, and the times they were a changin’.” The Lovings moved back to Central Point and filed a lawsuit, Loving v. Virginia. The Loving case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Richard and Mildred did not attend the Supreme Court hearings. Their lawyers read Richard’s words to the justices, “Tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.” These words were so plain and so honest, they resonated with all my students.
The Lovings were victorious in their battle and nine years after marrying, they were able to legally move back to Virginia to live.
When I finished reading this book, my students all asked if this book was true. I found the author’s note at the end of the book particularly poignant. Selina Alko, a white, Jewish woman, married Sean Qualls, an African-American man and one of the illustrators of this book, in 2003, having benefitted from the Lovings fight for justice so long ago.