Today I’ve thought a lot about things falling into place — in the most perfect of ways, in the most unlikely of ways. Like when a coworker gives you her spot at the premiere of a movie you’ve pegged as an Oscar favorite. Or when said movie was directed by an Arkansas native and Central High School graduate, Jeff Nichols. Maybe it’s when two of the Little Rock Nine happen to be in attendance. Or maybe the most beautiful happenstance today was when I discovered that the main characters of a movie called “Loving” were the candid, timeless symbols of that root word “love.” The film was perfect two-hour reprieve from reality and all that hate, hate, hate. Hate from all sides. Hate on the TV, in the break room, in a man who was asked to to stand to let a woman’s girlfriend by, muttering angrily about remembering to wear a safety pin next time. Yesterday, Merriam Webster tweeted the top words searched on their site in order: fascism, bigot, xenophobe, racism, socialism, resurgence, xenophobia, misogyny. Not all hate is loud, some of it is insidious. It creeps up your spine like winter wind, but it stays longer.
On June 2, 1958, a white man named Richard Loving and his part-black, part-Cherokee fiancée Mildred Jeter travelled from Virginia to Washington, D.C., to be married. At the time, interracial marriage was illegal in 21 states, including Virginia. This is the couple that changed that. Their quiet and confident, but nonetheless epic love story convinced the Supreme Court to unanimously rule in favor of the Lovings almost 10 years after they were married.
The thing that was the most striking to me about this film was that there could be a love like that. A love that understood without words. The kind of love that incite the lovers to stand in front of a judge and say they they were guilty of loving each other to avoid jail time for a crime that could never be a crime. A love without fanfare. A love story so pure that it begs to be told. A love that makes you believe in love.
“We might lose the small battles but win the great war.” Mildred said that line to a photographer from Life magazine asking what she would do if they lost the case against Virginia. As soon as that line was spoken, someone else in the audience uttered a knowing “Mmmhm.” One that I think we all echoed. This movie shows us how far we’ve come, not necessarily why it took us so long to get here. It shows us that quiet, pure love always prevails.
As long as there are people like the Lovings, there is no doubt we can win the great war.