She was expelled for marrying a black man 70 years ago; look at them now.

This year, Jake and Mary Jacobs celebrated 70 years of a great marriage, but they had to overcome many challenges to get there.

In 1940s Britain, Jake was one of the few black men in the city where Mary, a White lady, and Jake, a Black man, lived.

It would have been simple for Mary to leave, but she had fallen in love and would go to any length, against her father’s commands, to be with her lover.

“When I told my father that I was going to marry Jake, he told me, ‘You will never set foot in this house again if you marry that man.'”

When Jake immigrated from Trinidad during the war, they met at the same technical school where Mary was taking typing and shorthand lessons and he was in the Air Force.

Jake struck up a conversation with Mary, who lived in Lancashire at the time, and she was astonished by his Shakespeare expertise.

He and his buddy persuaded Mary and her friend to join them for a picnic, but a passing woman observed them and reported Mary to her father because she was appalled to see two English ladies conversing with black guys. Mary was not allowed to visit her father again.

They corresponded with one other after Jake returned to Trinidad, and he relocated to the United Kingdom a few years later to find better-paying work.

When Mary was 19, Jake proposed to her; she accepted, but when she told her family, they kicked her out.

“When I left, I only had one small piece of luggage.”

While her father was ‘horrified’ that she was thinking about marrying a black man, Mary had no idea the rest of society felt the same way.

“The first few years of our marriage were hell in Birmingham; I cried every day and barely ate.” Nobody said anything to us, we couldn’t find a place to live since no one would rent to a black man, and we had no money.”

It was difficult to walk down the street with Mary because people would point at them.

Mary became pregnant, and the couple rejoiced at the idea of becoming parents, but she gave birth to a stillborn child at the age of eight months.

“It wasn’t related to the stress I was under,” she said, “but it crushed my heart, and we never had any more children.”

Their circumstances improved when Mary worked as a teacher and advanced to assistant principle of a British school and Jake found work with the Post Office.

They made new friends, but Mary felt compelled to tell people that her husband was black before introducing them to him.

“My father died when I was 30, and while we had reconciled by then, he never approved of Jake,” she said.

Jake, 89, and Mary, 84, now live in Solihull, a town south of Birmingham. Their 70th wedding anniversary was recently celebrated.

Jake professes to have no regrets, but he also maintains that today’s black youth have no concept what his life was like in 1940s Britain.

“Every day, I am subjected to abuse.”

“Every day after I landed in the United Kingdom, I was treated to abuse. On a bus once, a man wiped his hands over my neck and remarked, ‘I wanted to check if the dirt would come off.'”

“And you couldn’t work in an office back then because a black man in an office with all the white girls wasn’t considered safe.”

Despite the hardships, bias, and abuse, the couple remains genuinely in love and has no regrets about their marriage. They’ve been married for over 70 years and are still going strong.

These two are great inspirations, and I wish them a lifetime of happiness because of their love for one another.


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