Characters Unite

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Characters Unite Award Winners

Jerald L. White

COX COMMUNICATIONS
NEW ORLEANS, LA
COMMUNITY ADVOCATE AND FOUNDER, NEW ORLEANS LOVING FESTIVAL

Jerald L. White has worked as a community advocate for over 20 years. He has always been a champion of the underdog - working as a grassroots organizer, environmental justice attorney and policymaker with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, the City of New Orleans, United States Senate, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. When he heard about the actions of a Louisiana Justice of the Peace who refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, he felt compelled to do something constructive in response.

In 2010, Jerald launched the New Orleans “Loving Festival,” a multicultural community celebration and film festival that challenges racism through outreach and education. During the last four years he has coordinated a wide variety of programs including workshops on undoing racism, art exhibitions, literary events, concerts, comedy shows, film screenings, youth activities, and other events to increase visibility and support for multiracial individuals, and community efforts to fight racism. Under his leadership, the "Loving Festival" has become an important community anchor for families, and a unique platform for showcasing the efforts of artists and community advocates who are working for racial justice.

Jerald's efforts have had positive impacts beyond the Greater New Orleans Community. In 2013 he organized a "Loving Family Portraits" exhibit to honor the legacy of Richard and Mildred Loving, the interracial couple who fought to end marriage discrimination in the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia. The exhibit included photographs by award winning LIFE Magazine photographer Grey Villet that were previously unavailable for public viewing. The photo exhibit attracted guests from around the world and will soon be available to other communities across the country.

Jerald earned a Bachelor's degree in Public & Environmental Affairs and a Juris Doctorate at Indiana University, and a Master of Arts degree in Media Ecology, Film & Communications at New York University. In 2004 he founded the Charitable Film Network, a non-profit dedicated to connecting media makers to good causes that benefit the community. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Gulf Restoration Network and the Japan Society of New Orleans. Jerald's advocacy is driven by his belief that we all have a responsibility to challenge racism and work together to create more equitable, healthy and sustainable living communities.