Married August 1, 1960, this couple shares their heart-felt story about living as an interracial couple during the civil rights movement.
“When I told my father I was going to marry Jake he said, ‘If you marry that man you will never set foot in this house again.’
He was horrified that I could contemplate marrying a black man, and I soon learned that most people felt the same way. The first years of our marriage living in Birmingham were hell — I cried every day, and barely ate. No one would speak to us, we couldn’t find anywhere to live because no one would rent to a black man, and we had no money.
People would point at us in the street. Then I gave birth to a stillborn son at eight months. It wasn’t related to the stress I was under but it broke my heart, and we never had any more children.
We were at the same technical college. I was having typing and shorthand lessons and he’d been sent there for training by the Air Force. He was with a group of black friends and they called my friend and me over to talk. We didn’t even know they spoke English, but Jake and I got chatting. He quoted Shakespeare to me, which I loved.
Jake returned to Trinidad, but we carried on writing to each other, and a few years later he returned to the UK to get better paid work.
He asked me to marry him, quite out of the blue, when I was only 19. My father threw me out, and I left with only one small suitcase to my name. No family came to our register office wedding in 1948.
But gradually life became easier. I got teaching jobs, ending up as a deputy head teacher. First Jake worked in a factory, then for the Post Office.
Slowly we made friends together, but it was so hard. I used to say to new friends: ‘Look, I have to tell you this before I invite you to my home — my husband is black.’
My father died when I was 30 and although we were reconciled by then, he never did approve of Jake.
Today we have been married for 63 years, and are still very much in love. I do not regret marrying him for an instant, despite all the pain we have suffered.”
As a gift, on reader restored their original photo.