West Michigan Loving Day Celebrations: Making the dream a reality one event at a time

Friday - Sunday, June 21 - 23
Greater Grand Rapids, various locations
The spirit of Loving Day is alive all over our city. But for locals who are not familiar, Loving Day is an open and affirming series of community-building events for multicultural, multiracial families, and their allies celebrated each year in honor of the landmark Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Our local Loving Day celebration is produced by the Ebony Road Players who have continued their mission to continually expand our experiences with the context of what this Supreme Court ruling meant for our society. To help you navigate this Loving Day weekend in Grand Rapids, here are three distinct events to consider attending:

Festival at Sigsbee Park: Food, Fun, and Family Fusion
Saturday, June 22, 12 – 4 p.m.
Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy SE

Loving Day has been hosting this free, community-focused celebration for years and in a variety of spaces, but this year’s celebration of diversity invites families and friends to come to Sigsbee Park for a relaxing afternoon of live music performances, food trucks, and a host of fun activities for children.

Theatre performance: “Loving” by Peter Manos 
Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St SE

"Loving" by Peter Manos is a stage production inspired by the story of Mildred and Richard Loving and showcases how they went from a young couple in love to become historic agents of change as they took on decades of oppressive marriage laws via the filing of the Loving vs. Virginia — a marriage rights victory that shifted the U.S.’s landscape with this Supreme Court Case of 1967. 

The play follows the lives and tenacity of Mildred and Richard as they fight unjust racist laws reaffirming the most essential right of all Americans: the freedom to love whomever you want. It is an important piece of history for the whole family.

The play features an electrifying local cast which includes the debut of actors, Ericka “Kyd Kane” Thompson and Lajanae Bijøn-Smith, who are both appearing on the stage for the very first time.

Final performances for “Loving” are June 21 & 22 at 8 p.m.

Documentary Film: “The Loving Generation”
Sunday, June 23, 3 - 5 p.m.

On Sunday, the 2019 celebration of Loving Day will come to a close at Wealthy Theatre where a fresh documentary, “The Loving Day,” will be screened and then a community discussion on living biracial/multiracial/trans-racial in West Michigan will commence immediately after.

“The Loving Generation” according to filmmakers “is a first-of-its-kind look into the generation of children born to one black parent and one white parent just before — and after — the Supreme Court’s 1967 Loving vs. Virginia decision, which overturned all remaining anti-miscegenation laws in the United States.”

More specifically, the interviewees are biracial individuals born between 1965 and 1985. These individuals include Erin Cloud, Susan Lewis, Melissa Harris-Perry, Adam Sewer, Elaine Welteroth, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Panama Jackson, Soledad O’Brien, Nicholas Jones, Jaweer Brown, Gracia Walker, Rebecca Carroll, Octavio Warnock-Graham, and Mat Johnson.”

The story of the Loving Generation is the story of how these biracial children — many of whom solely identify as Black — experience race within a divided America, and how their visibility (or invisibility), accomplishments and experiences provide a fascinating and unique window into the borderland between “blackness” and “whiteness”, and, in some cases, explode our ideas about race and identity.”

The Loving Generation documentary was conceived by Jezebel founder Anna Holmes and honestly explores the experiences and insights from the first generation of Americans born after mixed-race partnerships were legalized.

The series is directed and produced by Lacey Schwartz (Little White Lie) and Mehret Mandefro.

You can view the trailer here.
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