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'The Loving Story' Airs on HBO Tonight

This Valentine’s Day we celebrate love with the television premiere of The Loving Story on HBO.

The documentary film tells the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial married couple who were arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s miscegenation laws. Their desire to simply live together as husband and wife in their home state led to a Supreme Court ruling that overturned Virginia’s law prohibiting interracial marriage and declared all such laws unconstitutional.

The Loving Story, by filmmakers Nancy Buirski and Elisabeth Haviland James, includes archival footage, photos and present-day interviews that introduce us to the Lovings and their struggle for marriage equality. Today, we continue the fight for the rights of gay men and lesbians.

In partnership with Buirski, Haviland and HBO, Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project produced the educational guide. It’s designed to help students in grades six through 12 gain a deeper understanding of the landmark case, Loving v. Virginia, and its role in the civil rights movement.

Teaching Tolerance is proud to offer a teacher’s guide that will help students explore the tension between individual rights and state power and understand how the legal system works. Most importantly, The Loving Story provides powerful evidence that a single individual – or in this case – a couple, can bring about powerful social change that affects the lives of thousands.

The guide includes four lessons that will help students to understand Loving v. Virginia in the context of the civil rights movement. It is designed to help students understand what life was like for people during this period; recognize that social change takes time and perseverance; and apply their understanding of the story to their own lives and relevant issues, including current debates about marriage rights. 

Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children. It produces and distributes anti-bias education resources to teachers across the country through its award-winning Teaching Tolerance magazine, multimedia teaching kits, online curricula, professional development resources and classroom-friendly social justice documentaries. These materials are provided to educators at no cost.