Second film in racial justice series considers marriage
MIDDLEBURY — “Seeing Color/Seeking Justice, A Racial Identities/Racial Justice Film Series” presented by Middlebury Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is now gearing up for the second film in the series, “Loving.”
Screenings will take place at 4 and 7 p.m., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Marquis Theater. This film tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs in the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
Virginia Tech historian Peter Wallenstein, who has written two books about the Loving case, told the Huffington Post that these anti-miscegenation laws, as they were known, represented one of the last existing formal mechanisms for segregation. “The ‘64 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of ‘65 really had taken out all the formal support systems for Jim Crow segregation,” Wallenstein said. “The one remaining pillar in that whole edifice ? for decades, generations, centuries ? the one remaining one was marriage. That was the last to go, and it is, of course, three years after the Civil Rights Act.”
SURJ activists believe that the fact that Vermont is one of the whitest states may be the best reason ever to show films that highlight the lived experiences of people of color.
“Even here in liberal, progressive Vermont, we are constantly reminded of the reality of white supremacy. A recent example of this took place at an exhibition game at the University of Vermont, when several Black members of the St. Michael’s basketball team took a knee during the national anthem. The mostly white audience jeered and booed loudly, seemingly not understanding why an athlete would use this moment to draw attention to racial injustice,” said SURJ organizer Joanna Colwell. “The truth is that we have all absorbed racist messages and bigotry through textbooks, the media, and the world around us. If we are white our task is to listen to the grievances of communities of color, to open our minds and hearts, and to refuse to stop learning.”
Members of SURJ believe learning about past and current injustices perpetrated against Black Americans is a crucial key to becoming a more equitable society. “At this moment in history, when more and more Americans are waking up to the painful truth of racism, it is more important than ever to come together as a community and see these films,” said Kathy Comstock, another SURJ organizer, who has helped to plan the film series. “This Racial Justice Film Series perfectly fits our organization’s dual mission. We work to educate the community about the harm caused by white supremacy, AND to raise funds for anti-racist organizations in Vermont.”
Suggested donation to see the film is $10. Funds raised will benefit the Rokeby Museum, which educates Vermonters and visitors about Abolition and the Underground Railroad, and Middlebury SURJ. The Marquis Theater is located at 65 Main Street in downtown Middlebury. Food and beverages are available for sale in the cafe area between screenings.
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