Earlier this week, Comcast NBCUniversal was proud to join Focus Features for a historic screening of the film Loving in Washington, DC. Our nation’s capital served as a backdrop for an insightful evening with Kristen Welker of NBC News, along with lead actors Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton; Loving director Jeff Nichols and Dr. Rhea Combs, curator of film and photography at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Loving is a film about courage, determination, tolerance, and above all, love. The evening celebrated the persistence and commitment of Richard and Mildred Loving to fight for their right as a family in their hometown of Central Point, Virginia. Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, made history, going all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture served as a reminder of America’s storied and rich history, and brought us together to learn about our past as we look ahead to shaping our present and our future. As Dr. Combs noted, "Showing this film at the museum is important because the story is symbolic of the mission of the museum...It demonstrates the link between people of all backgrounds and culture."
Watching the film while sitting blocks away from the legislative foundations of America– the Supreme Court, the White House, Congress – I was struck by the weight and significance of the legacy of Richard and Mildred. Their fight for marriage equality broke longstanding boundaries and paved the pillars of our nation today. At the time of Richard and Mildred’s arrest, miscegenation was illegal in 24 states. Look to today, where 12 percent of all new marriages in 2013 were between spouses from different racial backgrounds. And in 2010, about 9 million Americans considered themselves multiracial.
Comcast NBCUniversal is honored to tell and deliver this powerful story to audiences through film. Loving demonstrates our commitment to celebrate diversity and inclusion, both in front of and behind the camera, and our dedication to films that serve diverse audiences.
In 2014 and 2015, we released groundbreaking films like The Danish Girl, Race, Get On Up, and Straight Outta Compton, which became the highest grossing film from an African American director in history. Last December, NBC celebrated diversity in live theater on television with "The Wiz Live!" featuring an all-star African American cast and director, and made history by becoming the first live broadcast entertainment program in the U.S. to be accessible to people with a visual disability.
In 2015, our Xfinity On Demand and Online platforms offered nearly 12,000 combined hours of diverse content with over 100 diverse networks, showing an increase of 70 percent from 2014.
These diverse voices and the stories they tell are critical to telling the stories of our past, present and looking ahead to the future. They are a reflection of ourselves and a window into communities that together make our nation strong. I was honored to be part of a history and look forward to continuing to tell these stories today and in the future.
Dr. Rhea Combs, Jeff Nichols, Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton and Kristen Welker discuss the legacy of Loving (October 24, 2016, Photo Credit: Tom Williams)
David L. Cohen, Kristen Welker, Jeff Nichols, Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton welcome guests to a screening of Loving (October 24, 2016, Photo Credit: Tom Williams)