Journalist travels from France to Bowling Green to research Loving story

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Gilles Biassette, a journalist from Paris, visits Caroline County to work on a book about the late Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple from Caroline County.

A Caroline County couple has drawn the interest of a journalist in France, and all that couple had to do was help nullify laws against interracial marriage.

Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter got married in 1958. The problem was, he was white and she was black, and interracial marriage was still illegal in Virginia.

The Lovings were arrested, and they were sentenced to one year in jail or they could leave Virginia for 25 years. They moved to Washington, D.C., and in 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court took up their case.

Loving v. Virginia ended with the Supreme Court invalidating laws that prohibited interracial marriage.

Gilles Biassette, a journalist from Paris, is preparing to write a book about the Lovings. To bolster his research, he’s looking for people who knew the couple.

“It’s an amazing story because (they) were very humble people,” Biassette said. “They’re not the people you’d expect to change history, and that’s what they did, because they were the couple that got to change a very bad law about marriage.”

Biassette also wants to spread awareness of an important court case that’s “not very famous, even in America.”

He learned about the case when he was viewing a photo exhibition in New York City a couple of years ago and encountered a display dedicated to the Lovings.

“They were in love, so I thought these pictures were very moving,” Biassette said.

“They were not activists. They were not intellectuals. They were just regular people who just wanted to move on with their own lives, and it took almost 10 years to achieve that,” he continued.

Biassette began his research last year when he was writing an article for la Croix, the newspaper he works for in Paris. Now he’s expanding that work into a full book.

“I would like to meet some people who knew the Lovings,” he said. “I’m interested in anything related to daily life, but who they were personally, anecdotes or things like that, but to have a better knowledge of them as human beings.”

Biassette said he attempted to get in touch with their daughter, but the phone number he had was inoperable.

He’s also trying to obtain a sense of how interracial relations in Caroline County compared to other segregated communities in the 1950s.

This would be Biassette’s third book. He has previously written about American politics and economic issues, but he wants this book to be more personal. He said he doesn’t want it to read like a journalistic report but to have it be “more about explaining life at that time.”

The book will be written in French. He doesn’t have a title yet, but he knows the Loving name will somehow figure into it.

“The name is amazing, so there will be something with the name,” he said.

Biassette will be in Virginia until at least April 1. Anyone who has information about Richard and Mildred Loving may contact him at gbiassette@yahoo.fr.

 

Posted on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm