What a year 2020 has been! On top of the crippling pandemic, the calls for social justice in this country have been overwhelming. I have felt so helpless and unsure of what I could do to make a difference. I don’t have the power to change the world, but I knew I had to do something in my own small way. I truly believe love is one of the strongest forms of protest. And while there is plenty of hard work that continues to be done, I decided to express my protest by creating a spotlight on the strength of enduring Black Love.
Thank you to Brides for featuring our stories and giving us the platform to share.
The story of Black Love is one of resilience. Black couples, through love, give each other the courage needed to face a world full of many challenges. It’s having a soft place to land and a welcome shelter from the hardships of life. It’s being stronger together. It’s being accepted exactly as you are. Black Love nurtures, gives life, empowers, emboldens, and inspires.
By sharing our stories of Black Love, we hope to create a shift in how we are portrayed and understood. Sharing our stories plants the seed of change in the hearts and minds of those who may not understand. When people feel differently, they are moved to action; and action leads to changing lives.
Representation also matters for other Black couples because it shows what’s possible. It inspires those who may not see it on a daily basis and gives hope to those that are seeking it. It allows us to combat stereotypes of the dysfunctional and unstable Black family. It challenges the stereotypical narrative and reiterates that Black is most certainly beautiful.
From the time Blacks were slaves in this country, the greatest protest was to love. Even when it was illegal to be married, slaves found a way to create a family and have a ceremony by jumping the broom to signify their commitment to one another.
When Blacks were allowed to marry and still faced the struggle and restrictions of Jim Crow, love is what carried many people through adversity. Black Love is full of passion, forgiveness, trust and sacrifice as all love is, but Black marriages carry the legacy of love from our ancestors and as a result, have become subjects of those ancestors’ wildest dreams.
The bottom line: Black Love matters because all love matters. Here are the stories of four Black couples that inspire love, no matter who you are:
The Test of Time
John and Karen Clinkscales eloped in 1979. After that came four daughters and a lot of sacrifice.
John was on the road with this career, preventing the two from spending a lot of time together. “Love allowed me to be away for periods of time and not worry—knowing that I have love waiting for me once I returned,” he says.
Their relationship grew into something beautiful—into the unique kind of relationship built on trust gained through sacrifice and perseverance. They’ve adapted to outside forces together, and the result is a love that has sustained the test of time. Forty-one years in fact, and they’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Love Conquers All
It only took six months for Dewayne and Michelle Gainey to know they wanted to get married, and 20 years later, they still know it was the right decision.
They’ve had the chance to mature together, which opened up space for them to learn how to push each other to become the best versions of themselves. They remain determined to keep falling in love as the seasons of life change.
Dewayne says, “I fell in love with her zest for life. She gave me direction when I had none. She always has a vision greater than I could ever imagine. Love keeps you fighting when you want to give up. Even when you don’t exactly like the other person, it’s love that reminds you of what’s most important.”
Celebrating Differences Together
Karl and Ashley Nsonwu are always working to blend their American, Jamaican, Indian and Nigerian roots into their marriage of four years.
Karl says, “I don’t believe there is one specific thing that made me fall in love with my partner. I fell in love with the total sum of her.” They approach life together, celebrate their respective sums, while living a life filled with love, laughter, and abundance.
“You never realize you’re sustained by love until something happens,” Ashley says. “Our love has not only sustained me; it has magnified me. Once I let love guide us, I noticed how much sweeter life became.”
Faith As the Foundation
Andrew and Nakia Means were all set with plans for their dream wedding in April 2020, but the pandemic had other ideas.
They were forced to cancel the grand celebration, but were inspired to host a different kind of party—one that proved even more special. A small ceremony in Nakia’s family home helped them feather their cap with facing their first big trial as husband and wife, and be certain of what’s most important in life.
“Don’t be afraid to take your partner on the journey with you in your thought process,” Nakia says. “It’s ok to be vulnerable and let your partner in on the less-than-perfect, unprocessed thoughts and feelings.”
Planning + Design – Lemiga Events
Photography – Inije Photography
Video – Iris Films
Venue – The Carlyle
Stationery – Papered Wonders
Floral Design – Akeem Clayton
Rentals – Peachtree Tents
Furniture Rentals – Sejour Events
Linen + Chargers – Nuage Designs
Cake + Dessert – Sweet Details
Custom Decor – Indaglow Productions
Balloon Decor – MomsKloset
Neon Sign – Narwall
Hair + Makeup – Scoobie West & Company
Bridal Boutique – Elite Pour La Vie
Men’s Fashion – The Modern Gent
Hair Accessories – Tyra Wedding Accessories
Jewelry – Misayo House
Ceremony Music – Ala The Heartist
Reception Music – Yung Vokalz
John and Karen Clinkscales – married 41 years
Dewayne and Michelle Gainey – married 20 years
Karl and Ashley Nsonwu – married 4 years
Andrew and Nakia Means – just married