Jerald White, founder of the New Orleans Loving Festival and Charitable Film Network, is one of 10 recipients of the 2014 Characters Unite Award presented by the USA Network. The award, which comes with a $5,000 grant, recognizes extraordinary efforts to combat hate and discrimination and to promote greater tolerance, respect and acceptance.

A community advocate for more than 20 years, White has worked as a grassroots organizer, environmental justice attorney and policymaker with the Sierra Club Legal Defense fund, the City of New Orleans, the U.S. Senate and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

With a passion for promoting equality and respect, White took to action when he learned about a Louisiana justice of the peace refusing to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. In response, he launched the New Orleans Loving Festival, a multicultural community celebration and film festival that promotes equality through outreach and education.

Under his leadership, the Loving Festival has become a community anchor for blended families and a platform for showcasing the efforts of artists and community advocates who are working for racial justice.