Jake and Mary Jacobs celebrated 70 years of blissful marriage last year, but they had to overcome many challenges to get there.
Jake was one of the few black men in the city where Mary, a White woman, and Jake, a Black man, lived in 1940s Britain even though they both lived there.
It would have been simple for Mary to leave, but she had fallen in love and would stop at nothing to be with her beloved, despite her father’s orders to do otherwise.
When I told my father I was planning to marry Jake, he threatened to banish me from the house forever if I did.
At the same technical college where Mary was taking typing and shorthand classes and he was undergoing Air Force training, the pair had met when Jake immigrated from Trinidad during the war.
Jake struck up a conversation with Mary, who was then a resident of Lancashire, and she was impressed by his comprehension of Shakespeare.
He and his companion invited Mary and her friend to join them for a picnic, but a woman cycling by saw them and reported Mary to her father because she was horrified to see two English girls conversing with black guys. Mary was not allowed to visit her father again after he was startled.
They corresponded to one another when Jake went back to Trinidad, and a few years later, he came back to the UK in search of better-paying employment.
When Jake unexpectedly proposed to Mary at the age of 19, she happily accepted; however, when she notified her family, they kicked her out.
“I just had one little luggage when I departed. Our 1948 registry office wedding was attended by no family.
Mary claimed that while the idea of her marrying a black man scared her father, she was unaware that this sentiment was shared by the majority of society.
“The first several years of our marriage were a living hell in Birmingham; I hardly ate and grieved every day. We had no money, no one would talk to us, and we had trouble finding housing since no one would rent to a black man.
According to Mary, it was difficult for them to even cross the street together since onlookers would stare at them.
When Mary became pregnant, the couple rejoiced in the anticipation of becoming parents, but at eight months, she gave birth to a stillborn child.
We never had any more children, and although it had nothing to do with the stress she was experiencing, she admitted that it broke her heart.
With Mary working as a teacher and becoming an assistant principal in a British school, and Jake obtaining employment with the Post Office, their lives did become easier. Although they met new acquaintances, Mary claimed that before introducing them to her husband, she felt the need to explain that he was black.
“I experienced abuse every day after moving to the UK. A man once put his hands over my neck while I was riding a bus and stated, “I wanted to check whether the dirt would come off.
And you couldn’t work in an office back then because it was believed that a black man among all the white girls wouldn’t be safe.
Despite all the challenges, bias, and abuse, the couple is still deeply in love and has no regrets about getting married. They have been happily married for more than 70 years.