Every love story is beautiful in its own way, but some are so special that they serve as a reminder that we should never stop fighting for true love.
When Mary and Jake met back in the 1940’s, interracial relationships were considered taboo. Their love for one another was considered a sin and they felt like it was the two of them against the entire world. Mary was white and Jack was black, something her parents never accepted. However, no matter the obstacles that stood on their way, the two lived to witness their love being celebrated.
Unfortunately, Jake passed away in 2019, and Mary left this world a year later. The story of their forbidden, but beautiful love, however, continues to live on.
Jake, who was from Trinidad, was serving in the United Kingdom during the WWII, and Mary was from Britain. That was when they first laid eyes on each other and fell in love instantly.
“I met Jake when he came over during the war from Trinidad, as part of the American forces stationed at the Burtonwood base near my home in Lancashire. 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,” Mary said in a 2016 interview.
One day, Jake’s friends invited Mary and her friends to join them to a picnic and that’s when a friend of Mary’s parents spotted them. She was shocked to see Mary in the company of Jake so she rushed to tell Mary’s father about that. When he learned his daughter was hanging out with a black man, he forbade her from seeing him. The two, however, didn’t split ways.
Once the war was over, Jake was forced to return to his homeland, but he and Mary stayed in touch through letters until he came back to Britain again a few years later and popped the question. “He asked me to marry him, quite out of the blue, when I was only 19,” Mary said. “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.”
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“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,” Mary added. “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.”
At the beginning, people would stare and make mean comments, but over time, things started changing. “But gradually life became easier. I got teaching jobs, ending up as a deputy headteacher. First Jake worked in a factory, then for the Post Office.”
Eventually, they made friends who accepted their relationship, but there was always fear present that they would judge them for the love they felt for one another.
“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,’” Mary said.
Before Mary’s father passed away, they reconnected, but he never approved of her marriage.
“I feel so fortunate to have met and married Mary,” said Jake “but it saddens me that we could not be accepted by society. Nowadays I say to young Black people: ‘You have no idea what it used to be like.’ When I arrived in the UK I was subjected to abuse every day. Once I was on a bus and a man rubbed his hands on my neck and said: ‘I wanted to see if the dirt would come off.’ And back then you couldn’t work in an office — because a Black man in an office with all the white girls wasn’t thought to be safe.”
In April 2019, Jake and Mary celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. Some time later, Jake passed away, leaving his wife behind. Then, in 2020, Mary left this world as well. The two are no longer alive, but their love story continues to live on.
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Love and Peace