The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage

illus. by Selina Alko & Sean Qualls. 40p. bibliog. further reading. illus. notes. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. Jan. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545478533.
Gr 1–5—This debut picture book by husband and wife team Alko and Qualls gives the story of Mildred and Richard Loving its due. The couple first met and fell in love in Jim Crow Cedar Point, VA, in 1958, but because Richard was white and Mildred was African American and Cherokee, they were not permitted to marry under Virginia law. The pair did contract nuptials in Washington, DC and eventually had several children, but they weren't content to leave the discriminatory law uncontested. In legal proceedings that led to a Supreme Court case, their union was finally upheld as constitutional. The charming and cheerful mixed media illustrations are done in gouache and acrylic paint with collage and colored pencil, a perfect marriage of Alko and Qualls's art styles. While the text is uninspired in moments, it shines with a message that is universal: "They won the right to their love. They were free at last." Back matter includes an author and artist's note explaining the importance of this topic. A much-needed work on a historical court case that made the ultimate difference on mixed race families that will resonate with contemporary civil rights battles. Put it on the shelves next to Duncan Tonatiuh's Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation (Abrams, 2014) and Joyce Carol Thomas's Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone: The Brown v. Board of Education Decision (Hyperion, 2003).—Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
Richard Loving (white) and Mildred Jeter (black) fell in love and married, then were arrested for miscegenation. Their 1967 Supreme Court case legalized interracial marriage. Alko does a mostly admirable job of shaping the story (some terms are hazy) and the legal proceedings for a young audience. The book's optimistic message and tone are reinforced by mixed-media illustrations by Alko and Qualls (themselves partners in an interracial marriage). Reading list. Bib.
The 1967 Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage throughout the country is here given a picture-book accounting. Richard Loving was white, Mildred Jeter’s skin was a “creamy caramel”; despite their different racial backgrounds, they fell in love and married, only to be arrested for miscegenation when they returned to their Virginia hometown after the wedding. It’s a story about adults and with potentially much legalese, but Alko does a mostly admirable job of shaping the love story and the legal proceedings for a young audience. There is, however, a haziness about skin color and racial identity throughout the book that can be unclear, with lyrical references to “people of every shade” bumping confusingly with “colored,” and “black”; meanwhile, the term “interracial marriage” is used but not defined. While the book is honest about the obstacles the Lovings faced, its message and tone are optimistic, the feel-good atmosphere reinforced by the pencil, paint, and collage illustrations by Alko and Qualls (themselves partners in an interracial marriage). With soft, worn shades providing a gently old-timey aura, even a scene like the police busting in on the sleeping couple is sufficiently dramatic without being frightening. Frequent festoons of hearts and flowers, nice but overly decorative, help, too. Sources and a suggested reading list are appended. roger sutton

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing