two pairs of hands holding eachother, one white the other black

74 Years Ago, She Was Kicked Out For Loving A Black Man–Today, Their Love Still Lives

The love story of Mary and Jake puts Romeo and Juliet to shame. They met in the 1940s and fell in love. But mixed-race couples were not accepted at the time. It was their love versus the world. However, they never gave up. They got married and got to live to see an age where their relationship was celebrated. Sadly, they have both passed away, with Mary reuniting with Jake in the afterlife in July 2020 [1].

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Forbidden Love

The couple met during World War II when Jake was serving in the United Kingdom. He was originally from Trinidad and Mary was living in Britain. In an interview in 2016, Mary explained,

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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.[2]

A few weeks later, Mary and her friend joined Jake and his group on a picnic. However, a woman biked past them and she was shocked two see the interracial group. She told Mary’s father and he banned her from seeing Jake. 

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When the war ended in 1945, Jake had to return to Trinidad. They frequently sent each other letters but it didn’t take long for Jake to feel like he couldn’t be apart from her anymore. Within a few years, he was back in Britain, down on one knee, asking Mary to be his wife. “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.

Read: The Heartwarming, Seven-Decade Love Story of Preble and Isabell Staver

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Rejected By Her Family

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.”

Jake and Mary Jacobs April 1948
Jake and Mary Jacobs April 1948. Image via The Homemade Home | Facebook

Strangers would gawk at them in the street. The stress was terrible, and to make matters worse, Mary had a miscarriage 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,” she said. They already had three children at the time, Raymond, Cindy, and Patty. [2] “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.”

The couple began to make a few friends, but it wasn’t easy. “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.

When her father passed away, Mary was 30. The two managed to reconnect but he never approved her marriage to Jake. But that didn’t stop them. 

Read: Winston Howes’ Remarkable Love Story – A Family That Went Viral

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You have no idea what it used to be like”

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 2019, he explained their life nowadays in an interview with The Cut. “The day-to-day cooking is my job; I’ve always done it, except when we expect kosher visitors. Then it’s done by my wife. We men think we’re always right, but we’re never always. My wife and I are going into 71 years of marriage and we’re still working on it. Unfortunately, Mary has a slight form of Alzheimer’s coming on. The doctors are trying their best, but they haven’t found a cure yet. But we’re hoping. She’s 89 this year, and I’m 93.” [3]

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The couple celebrated their 71st anniversary together in April 2019. Sadly Jake passed away sometime afterward, and Mary in July of 2020. However, their love story continues to inspire. It’s incredible that after all of their hardship, the couple was able to overcome the odds against them. 

Keep Reading: Abandoned By Parents, She Vowed To Prove Them Wrong – Today, She Models For Vogue

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Sources

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  1. “Mary Ann Jacobs.Legacy.
  2. “Our love was colour blind… but our families weren’t.Daily Mail. Diana Appleyard and Clare Goldwin. February 5, 2016
  3. “They Have Been Married for Seven Decades and They’re Still ‘Working on It’.” The Cut. Rachel Bashein. April 5, 2019
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