Jake and Mary Jacobs have been married for 70 years. They’ve overcome all obstacles to get there.
Mary, a White woman, met Jake who was Black in 1940s Britain. Although they lived in the city, Jake was among a very small number of black men.
Mary could have easily walked away, but she was in love with her lover and would do whatever she could to be with him even though her father had told her to leave.
“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.'”
They met at the same technical school where Mary took typing and shorthand classes and Jake was in the Air Force.
Mary, who at the time lived in Lancashire and Jake, got to talking and Jake impressed Mary by his Shakespeare knowledge.
Mary, her friend and he went out to a picnic. A lady riding by was surprised to see the two English girls talking to black men. She reported Mary to her dad. Mary’s father was horrified and forbade her from ever seeing him again.
They wrote each other when Jake returned to Trinidad. A few years later, he went to the U.K. in order to find better-paying work.
Jake surprised Mary when he asked her to marry. Mary was 19 at the time and she accepted. However, her family did not accept her marriage proposal.
No family came to our registry office wedding in 1948. In 1948, no family attended our wedding at the registry office.
Mary said while her father was ‘horrified’ that she could contemplate marrying a black man she didn’t realize that the rest of society felt the same way.
“The first years of our marriage living in Birmingham were hell — I cried every day, and barely ate. We couldn’t get anyone to speak to us. No one would rent an apartment to a black person, and we didn’t have any money.
Mary told Daily Mail it was hard to even walk together down the street because people would point them out.
Mary became pregnant, and her husband was excited to be a parent soon. However, at eight months of pregnancy she gave birth a stillborn baby.
She said, “It was not related to my stress but it broke our hearts and we never had more children.”
Mary became a teacher, rising to the position of assistant principal at a British school. Jake got a job in the Post Office. Mary says she made new friends, but she had to tell people her husband was black first before she would introduce them.
She said, “My father passed away when I was 30, and though we had reconciled at that time, he did not approve of Jake.”
Mary, aged 84, and Jake (aged 89) live in Solihull to the south of Birmingham. Recently they celebrated 70 years together.
Jake tells the young black people of today that he does not regret his actions, but that they do not know how it was for him back in 1940s Britain.
‘Subjected to abuse every day’
“When I arrived in England, I was treated badly every day. Every day I was abused. 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.”
The couple, despite all hardships, abuse and prejudice, are still in love, and they have no regrets for marrying. They enjoy over 70 years together.
They are an inspiration to me and I wish them many years of happiness.