This February, we’re celebrating love that has changed the course of Black history.
The Obamas. The Smiths. The Crafts. The love these couples share is the blueprint because it inspires us to believe that love not only withstands the test of time, it helps us become our best selves. With that said, check out our list of unforgettable and amazing Black couples that have demonstrated and defined the essence of what Black love is all about.
Barack and Michelle Obama
No list of bomb Black couples would be complete without a mention of the lovely, awe-inspiring Obamas. The couple we now know as our favorite President and First Lady started off on surprising terms. A few months after being assigned Michelle as his mentor, Barack asked her on a date. She took a chance and they fell in love, reaching new heights together. Despite the strains of an eight-year presidency, the Obamas walk with grace and continue to be #relationshipgoals 26 years into their love story.
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith
The more we learn about Will and Jada, the more there is to love. On a recent Red Table Talk, Will opened up about how they met. Apparently, Will asked his Fresh Prince co-star Alfonso Ribeiro to get him on the set of A Different World where Jada was acting. They didn’t end up together on day one, but they now boast two beautiful children and 21 years of marriage. In that span, they’ve both grown their careers, debunked zillions of divorce rumors, and established themselves as life partners.
Colin and Alma Powell
The America’s Promise Alliance is one of many legacies from Colin and Alma’s 56-year marriage. As former and current chairs, they have spent decades promoting safe, healthy environments for youth and increasing graduation rates. But we can’t forget Colin’s service as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Secretary of State nor Alma’s undeniable presence at his side. It’s said that she was steadfast during his second tour of duty and a key voice in his decision to forego a presidential run.
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee
This couple may have met through theatre, but they grew together as political activists. You know Ruby Dee for her stage and screen roles like A Raisin in the Sun; you know Ossie for directing and acting in productions such as Cotton Comes to Harlem. Together they performed in films like Do The Right Thing, earned the National Medal of Arts from Congress, and, more notably, protested civil rights injustices beside Martin Luther King, Jr. and other great advocates of their time. They were married from 1948 until Ossie died in 2005.
Jackie and Rachel Robinson
Jackie may be famous as the man who “broke the color barrier” in baseball, but his wife, Rachel, made action of his memory through The Jackie Robinson Foundation. 100 years after Jackie’s birth, the foundation creates opportunities for youth through college scholarships, mentorship, and leadership training. Jackie and Rachel first joined forces during their time at UCLA, before Jackie joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first Black player in Major League Baseball. But this was not their first move against the segregationist climate of their time. While in the military, Jackie refused to move to the back of an army bus. While playing ball, the couple endured endless hurdles in Jackie’s attempt to be adequately recognized. And throughout their marriage, the Robinsons hosted jazz concerts to raise funds for unjustly imprisoned civil rights activists.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King
Though the King’s marriage was cut short by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s tragic assassination in 1968, they established a memorable legacy in their 15 years together. The pair met in Boston — Coretta was a music student as Martin was studying theology. When they married, Coretta joined Martin on his influential path as a pastor’s wife, mother of four, and leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Together they marched, endured threats to their home, and carried the message of nonviolent activism.
Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz
Malcolm X was already a dedicated speaker for the Nation of Islam when he met Betty Sanders. She ultimately converted and joined him in changing her surname to “X” acknowledging the loss of their African heritage. Under the Nation of Islam, they raised four daughters, ultimately six, as Malcolm’s notoriety grew. Later, after converting to Sunni Muslims, they changed their last name to Shabazz and endured threats from members of the Nation of Islam. Betty, pregnant with their last two daughters, shielded her children from the gunfire that ultimately took Malcolm’s life.
Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade
Carmen and Geoffrey’s love story began on the set of the musical House of Flowers. From that time until Holder’s death in 2014, they were creative partners through dance and other theatrical endeavors. Geoffrey stood out for his hearty voice and stature which lead to features in a James Bond movie and a series of 7-Up commercials, among other dance and acting roles. Carmen spent many years dancing with Alvin Ailey and acting in films such as Carmen Jones. Well into her eighties, Carmen continues to perform, honoring her husband’s collaborative support.
Medgar Evers and Myrlie Evers-Williams
An eight year age difference didn’t keep the Evers from successfully building their family and the fight against racial injustice. Medgar and Myrlie met at Alcorn A&M College in 1950. After completing his studies, Medgar grew as a civil rights activist starting with the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and blossoming at the NAACP. Medgar worked as a Mississippi field officer while Myrlie worked at his side as secretary. Their work registering voters, organizing demonstrations, and combating segregation drew positive and threatening attention. After Evers’ murder in 1963, Myrlie continued the fight, rising to the role of chairwoman of the NAACP and raising their three children.
William and Ellen Craft
William and Ellen Craft, fugitive slaves and abolitionists, have a jaw-dropping story. Together they survived slavery, a harrowing escape, and the threat of recapture. Their plan to escape slavery came together in 1848, shortly after they married. The plan? Pass the fair-skinned Ellen as a white male slave master and William as her slave. They traveled to freedom by train and resided in Boston, leaving for England after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. In London, they spoke for the abolitionist movement and published their story, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, before returning to the United States to live out the remainder of their days.
Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher
Herbert and Zelmyra may not have been public figures, but prior to their deaths in 2011 and 2013 respectively, their marriage drew attention when it set the Guinness World Record for the longest marriage, 84 years, in 2008. They married as teens and remained together until Herbert’s death in 2011. Is there a secret to a long-lasting marriage like theirs? When asked, Zelmyra said, no. “It was only God that kept us together.”