Grandson say 'Loving' movie gets one key point wrong

Published: Nov. 3, 2016 at 12:30 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2016 at 3:12 PM EDT
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Loving marriage license (Source: Smithsonian)
Loving marriage license (Source: Smithsonian)
Mark Loving (Source: NBC12)
Mark Loving (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A major Hollywood film shot here in Virginia - and getting a lot of Oscar Buzz - will open the Virginia Film Festival Thursday in Charlottesville before opening nationwide Friday.

The movie, "Loving," is about an interracial marriage and the court case that struck down Virginia's Racial Integrity Act, making any law forbidding different races from getting married unconstitutional.

But now, one of the Loving grandchildren claims a key element of the movie is wrong.

In 1958, Richard Loving - a white man - married Mildred Jeter - a woman of color - a violation of Virginia's Racial Integrity Act. The Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage all across the country - a move that wasn't popular at the time.

"When the Loving case was decided, a significant majority of Americans did not agree with interracial marriage, but the court went ahead anyway and said they have the fundamental right to be married," said Claire Gastanaga with the Virginia ACLU.

Mark Loving was raised by his grandma, Mildred Loving - the central character in the movie. While it's clear his grandmother is a woman of color, if you believe that color was black, Mark says you'd be wrong.

While he likes the overall theme of the movie, he takes offense that the film portrays his grandmother as African-American, when there's no evidence that she was.

"I know during those times, there were only two colors: white and blacks," said Loving. "But she was Native American, both of her parents were Native American."

Mark says his grandmother always identified as Rappahannock Indian. If you doubt him, look no further than Richard and Mildred's original D.C. marriage license, which is available online from the Smithsonian. It clearly reads, Richard Perry Loving - white - Mildred Delores Jeter - Indian.

Mark says if his grandmother was alive today, she would cringe at all the attention the family is getting, and she'd be insulted that she was racially profiled as someone she wasn't.

"She wasn't trying to be no hero, she wasn't tryin' to be no civil rights activist," he said. "She just wanted to come back to Central Point, Virginia."

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