PORT TOWNSEND — Theirs was a love affair and a landmark in U.S. history.
Mildred Jeter, a Black and Native American woman, married Richard Loving, a white man, 63 years ago. After their wedding in Washington, D.C., they returned home to Virginia and found their union was illegal.
Threatened with jail time, they refused to leave each other. Their true story is “The Loving Story,” a documentary film streaming free all day Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Day.
The Rose Theatre of Port Townsend, which has been selling tickets to a variety of streamed films for nine months now, is presenting “The Loving Story” at no charge via Rosetheatre.com.
“I just look forward to this event every year,” said Rose owner Rocky Friedman, “for the fun of finding a movie that ties into [Martin Luther King Jr. Day], and how touched people are by the films I’ve shown.”
“The Loving Story,” with its rich 16-millimeter footage and rare Life Magazine photographs by Grey Villet, follows Richard and Mildred on their journey to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Their young American Civil Liberties Union lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, tell their story too, and the couple’s daughter, Peggy Loving, gives her own testimony.
This is the first film Friedman chose, 10 years ago, to show free on Martin Luther King Day. Revisiting “The Loving Story” earlier this month, he was moved again by its essence.
“Richard and Mildred chose not to come to the Supreme Court when their case was argued,” in 1967, Friedman noted.
When Richard was asked if there was anything they wanted to say to the justices, he went straight to the point.
“I love my wife,” he said, and the law against their marriage is an unjust one.
The film also tells America’s tale of racism, a tale “still going on, that’s just as pertinent now. Given the protests of last summer, it’s more important than ever.”
Past Martin Luther King Jr. Day films at the Rose include “Selma,” Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed feature about King, and the HBO documentary “King in the Wilderness.” They drew full houses, Friedman said; “people appreciate it as much as I love doing it.”
Among the rest of the Rose’s offerings, movies about musicians and other artists are doing well in the streaming universe.
The 23 films available range from “Zappa” and “Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own” to “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President,” along with “Louis Van Beethoven,” “Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack” and “The Donut King.”
Tickets purchased on the theater website range from $4.99 to $12 per household.
Also popular, even in midwinter, is the popcorn sold at 235 Taylor St., from the Rose Theatre window. Friedman serves small, medium and large bags from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each Saturday.
“I thought it would taper off,” he said, “but popcorn sales have not diminished one bit.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.