#IMWAYR & #SOLC17: Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

The Slice of Life March Writing Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers – 31 days of  a writing community.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?  is hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts

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The story of Mildred and Richard Loving has been very much in the news recently.  A critically acclaimed movie, a sensitively told picture book, podcasts, and the re-airing of documentaries are just some of the ways in which the Loving’s extraordinary battle to challenge Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws has been revisited and retold.

For those not familiar with the Loving’s story, here it is in a nutshell: Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving grew up in the same town, Central Point in Caroline County, Virginia. Things went awry when their friendship blossomed into love, for Richard was white and Mildred was black, and interracial marriage  was against the law in  Caroline County (anti-miscegenation laws, in fact, existed in 24 states at the time).  The young couple have to travel to Washington D.C. to be married, and are arrested immediately upon their return. It takes time in jail,  many years, and many court battles before the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Lovings, and they are allowed to live in peace and raise their children in the place they called home – Central Point, Virginia.

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Patricia Hruby Powell’s Loving Vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case is a welcome addition to this collection, especially because of the way in which it tells the  story: in verse, and through the voices of Mildred and Richard.  The two perspectives allow the reader to better understand how both Richard and Mildred processed the events as they unfolded, and gives us some insight into what they thought and how they felt. 

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I loved that the book included snippets of history (the Civil Rights movement, the Brown vs. Board of Education case) which allow us to put the Loving case in its historical context. Shadra Strickland’s delicate artwork adds so much to the experience of the book, as well:

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Our students take so many of the advances made by the Civil Rights movement for granted today, even as many of those advancements (voting rights, for instance) are under assault. Books like Loving vs. Virginia remind us of the sacrifices made by individuals like the Lovings for such rights and for progress, and they remind us that the fight for civil rights is an ongoing struggle in which we must all participate. Loving vs. Virginia is a must have book in middle and high school classrooms, it would make for an important readaloud, especially now.

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17 thoughts on “#IMWAYR & #SOLC17: Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

  1. I have a copy, and it definitely got checked out during our Civil Rights units. We’ll see how well it does the rest of the year. Novels in verse tend not to do terribly well in my library.

  2. I’ve wanted to read this for a while. I enjoyed the picture book version of the story ages ago. You are right that this is an important book. It’s really challenging to realize that those gains we made through all kinds of sacrifice, have to be constantly fought for.

  3. I feel like the date of this case was such a short time ago. I was in junior high at this time. I think it is so ironic that the name was Loving when this was a case about loving. How fitting!

  4. I knew a bit about their story from when the movie came out but I did not see the movie. The book is something I will definitely get and read. Thanks for the recommendation, Tara.

  5. Thanks for sharing this book and your insight: “Books like Loving vs. Virginia remind us of the sacrifices made by individuals like the Lovings for such rights and for progress, and they remind us that the fight for civil rights is an ongoing struggle in which we must all participate.” This struggle is a reality that we must teach. When we read, Stella by Starlight, my book club students were totally unaware of current challenges to voting rights.

  6. I have seen this book in bookstores and cannot wait for the opportunity to purchase it for my classroom. Yes, yes, yes to everything you say in your post about the importance of reading a text like this, especially now.

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