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The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage (2015)

Written by Selina Alko

Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

Typeset in Adobe Garamond Bold Pro

Mixed media: paint (gouache and acrylic), collage and colored pencil on bristol board

Arthur A. Levine Books

First comes love, then comes marriage...

This book is a retelling of the true story of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter, a Virginian couple who first met in 1958. Specifically, they lived in Central Point, Virginia, "where people every shade from the color of chamomile tea to summer midnight made their homes." Richard was white. Mildred was black.

I was aware of Loving Day, celebrated on June 12th, but did not know the specifics of the case, or the personalities of the people involved. I't s a pretty crazy intense story. When they were not allowed to get married in Virginia, they went to D.C. to exchange their vows. They then return to their home to begin their life together, but one night, the police raid their home. The actually raided their home!

"What are you doing with that woman?"

Richard proudly pointed to their marriage certificate hanging on the wall.

"That's not good here!"

Unlawful Cohabitation is the crime thy're charged with, large words, and I like how Selina draws them out, brings them from out of the text, and into the illustrations.

They served jail time - jail time! - and told if they wanted to live together, they'd have to leave Virginia.

From their, fast-forward to 1967 - a time of changing social politics - and the Loving Case comes before the Supreme Court.

"Purity of the white race!" seems to be the strongest argument against them. Nonetheless, the case was won, their marriage was legalized, and today all interracial couples in a state of cohabitation owe them a debt of gratitude, and owe it to themselves to learn their story.

On the day that I first wrote these words, Kim Davis was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to prison. I realize sexuality and race are not one-to-one direct analogues, but I can't help but feel echoes of it whenever the topic of interracial marriage comes up.

I wasn't alone in this. In her Author's Note, Selina Alko writes, "Today every state legalizes interracial marriage, bit the fight form equality continues. When I first wrote this manuscript in 2011, only five states legalized same-sex marriage. As of today in early 2014, there are 17 states wherein gay marriage is legal.

"It is our hope that there will soon come a time when all people who love each other have the same rights as Sean and I have."

The Sean she refers to is Sean Qualls, the co-illustrator. They are also a married couple, and are an interracial one at that.

About the artwork, she writes, "We both use paint and collage, which gave us a foundation for blending our styles together. But where Sean tends to be more introspective and emotional (taking his time to create subtle layers of color and texture), I am more spontaneous and burst forth with bold color. Just like a marriage in the joining of two people, the illustrations for this book cold not be achieved individually."

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