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Downtown festival celebrates film, books and interracial marriage

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, June 08, 2012, at 11:17AM
Flickr via Stevendamron

The Mixed Roots festival will take place at the Japanese American National Museum in DTLA.

A three-day film and literary festival that celebrates multiculturalism begins June 15 at the Japanese American National Museum in Downtown. The event coincides with "Loving Day" -- a national "grassroots celebration" of the Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in 1967.

The Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival includes spoken word performances, comedy, music film, and family workshops.

"It is really about celebrating stories as a mixed experience," said Fanshen Cox, a co-producer and founder of the event.

Cox said this will be the fifth year that her and co-founder Heidi Durrow have been putting on the festival (the two together with Jennifer Frappier also put out the podcast Mixed Chicks Chat.). Cox began to formulate the idea for the event as she was struggling to find her niche as a multiracial actress. Before each audition, she would have to ask her agent if she was supposed to be "black" or "white," and would style her hair and hone her style accordingly, Cox said.

Cox moved from New York to Los Angeles and found a wealth of resources in the "amazing diversity of the community" and began the Mixed Roots festival in downtown L.A.

The weekend's events are "literally representative of every possible hue and ethnic background," Cox said.

The Los Angeles Times described Mixed Roots as addressing "issues of identity and role models for people of mixed heritage." Organizers told the L.A. times that recent census figures show that 6.8 million Americans identify as mixed and 7 percent of marriages are interracial.

The festival kicks off with the L.A. City Council's official declaration of June 15 as "Loving Day" in Los Angeles, followed by an evening screening of "The Loving Story" -- a documentary film about an interracial couple living in Virginia in the 1950s who fought for their relationship up to the Supreme Court.

Other highlights include a workshop on directing led by Sheldon Epps, the Mixed Roots Marketplace and "Mixed Unplugged," and a panel featuring KPCC's own Leslie Berestein Rojas.

Events start between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free but organizers suggest registering online ahead of time for programs you're interested in attending.

Mixed Roots will be making its "first foray outside of Los Angeles" this fall for a mini-festival that's being held at a conference in Chicago.

The Japanese American National Museum is located at 369 E. First St.

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