Expelled by Family for Marrying a Black Man, They Now Commemorate 70 Years of Togetherness

Last year marked a significant milestone in the lives of Jake and Mary Jacobs, who celebrated 70 years of a profoundly harmonious marriage. Their journey as a couple has been characterized by surmounting numerous challenges, a testament to their enduring bond.

In the backdrop of 1940s Britain, Mary, a Caucasian woman, and Jake, an African descent man, crossed paths. At that time, Jake was one of the very few black men in the city they resided in. Despite the societal norms of the era, which often bred prejudice and discrimination, Mary and Jake’s connection deepened. The yearning of their hearts overcame racial barriers, despite the odds stacked against them.

In the landscape of their shared history, Mary’s father’s disapproval stands out. He vehemently opposed her relationship with Jake, warning that should she choose to marry him, she would be unwelcome in their home. This confrontation was a pivotal moment in their narrative, testing Mary’s commitment to the man she had grown to love. The circumstances could have led her to walk away, yet her heart’s resolve bound her to her beloved, even in defiance of her father’s wishes.

Their initial encounter occurred while attending the same technical college, where Mary pursued typing and shorthand lessons while Jake received Air Force training. In a fortuitous collision of interests, their connection deepened through conversations about Shakespeare’s works. A simple picnic invitation from Jake and his friend initiated a series of events that unveiled the glaring intolerance of the time. A chance encounter with a passing cyclist, scandalized by the sight of English women socializing with black men, led to Mary’s father discovering the relationship, resulting in a painful rift between them.

When Jake returned to Trinidad, the ocean could not quell their connection. Through letters, their bond grew stronger, culminating in Jake’s return to the UK for better job opportunities. Mary’s acceptance of Jake’s proposal at the age of 19 was met with familial rejection. Stripped of family support, their union was solidified in a modest registry office ceremony in 1948, a ceremony unattended by family.

Life for the newlyweds was fraught with challenges during their early years in Birmingham. Their love was juxtaposed against a society unready to embrace interracial couples. Racial prejudice made securing housing and employment an arduous task. The mere act of walking together in public drew pointed stares and unsolicited comments. In the midst of this struggle, Mary’s pregnancy brought them joy, but the loss of their child cast a shadow over their lives.

Through unwavering perseverance, Mary ascended to the role of a teacher and assistant principal in a British school, while Jake secured a job with the Post Office. Their circle of friends expanded, but Mary’s consciousness of Jake’s race compelled her to preface introductions with explanations. Even though Mary’s father eventually passed away, his lingering disapproval remained a poignant memory.


Today, residing in Solihull near Birmingham, Jake and Mary, aged 89 and 84 respectively, celebrate over seven decades of marriage. Jake’s reflection on his journey serves as a poignant reminder of the arduous path he traversed. His recollections paint a vivid picture of the prejudice he faced daily, even recounting an incident on a bus where he was subjected to derogatory comments.

In spite of the adversity they encountered, Jake and Mary’s enduring love remains a beacon of inspiration. Their story is a testament to the power of love’s triumph over societal bias and hardship. With a lifetime of shared experiences, their love story is a testament to the strength of their connection, an inspiration for all who encounter it. Wishing them continued happiness in the years ahead.

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