Seton Hall professor, Dr. Larry Greene was invited to attend the expert’s screening of the film Loving before it premiered due to his expertise.
The court case Loving v. Virginia is portrayed in the film, Loving, which was released Nov. 4.
The expert screening was on Oct. 31 at the Magno Screening Room in New York City.
Producers of the film reached out to Laurie Pine, director of media relations, asking if the university could provide any experts on the case to attend.
In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act. This led to a case that was eventually appealed in the Supreme Court. Ultimately, the Supreme Court outlawed all anti-miscegenation laws and the Lovings were able to live as a married couple.
Pine said she reached out to Greene, a professor in the history department, because of his vast knowledge and experience writing about the case.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with Professor Greene for many years and am aware of his extensive knowledge, research and writings concerning anti-miscegenation law and the prohibition of interracial marriage that he brings forward in his teaching about American history, African American history, World War II and the history of the South,” Pine said.
Greene said he has been studying the case for about 15 years and teaches about it in his African American history classes since it is a part of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, he said.
As he began studying the case in great detail, he said, many questions arose in his mind.
“What was behind these laws? Why did they exist? Why did the state feel the need to intercede in a personal decision?” Greene asked. “That’s how I got interested in the subject. It was a part of my larger interest in southern history and in African American history.”
Another professor in the history department, Dr. Williamjames Hoffer, was also asked to attend the screening. He was unable to attend because the time conflicted with one of his classes.
Although he has not watched the film, Hoffer said it is important that people become familiar with the case and its history as it can relate to recent events, such as the presidential election.
“As the recent election shows, people assume that certain rights, such as freedom from racial bigotry, are safe and permanent. They are not. They have to be fought for and victory is not easy or assured,” Hoffer said.
After attending the screening, Greene said the film exceeded his expectations and stayed true to history.
“The film was very well-done. I suspect they will be nominated for an Academy Award,” he said. “I think the film follows the case very well.”
Greene said the film is significant because it shows the extent that some people will go to make their prejudices known. He added that while people are entitled to their prejudices, they do not have the right to force them upon others.
“If individuals have these prejudices, that’s their right. But they don’t have a right to enshrine them in law and make everyone else conform,” Greene said. “The case here is what two ordinary people did. I think in this day and age we should look at this case as an example of civil rights, the right of people to make their own personal decisions and to keep the state out of these issues.”
Katherine Segovia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.