22 Interracial Relationships That Changed History.

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Maya Angelou

We're lucky to live in a time when it's not such a big deal to see people of different races in a relationship with one another. Well, in most places that's true. It's unfortunate, but there are still some undeniably prejudiced people and places in the United States at this time. Because of that, it's a nice reminder to understand that love comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Love itself isn't prejudiced and these couples knew and understood that sentiment. Take a few moments to appreciate these interracial power couples who helped pave the way for interracial couples today, who have the right to safely love each other openly and without discrimination!


Maya Angelou is considered one of the world's most distinguished poets and authors. Most people don't realize that Maya's name was a combination of the nickname she had when she was a child and her Greek husband's last name. The couple met in a record shop in San Francisco and they were married in 1953. The marriage didn't last long because Angelos, her husband, was atheist and Maya was very spiritual.

Clinton Presidential Library / Public Domain

Pearl Bailey and Louie Bellson

In modern times, Pearl Bailey was one of the original divas of music. Established drummer Louie Bellson was the only white member of Duke Ellington's infamous band. The couple was married after only knowing each other for five days. Even though the couple received an unbelievable amount of backlash and criticism, the couple stayed married for 38 years and adopted two children together.

Lena Horne and Lenny Hayton

Lena Horne was always meant to be a star. When she was just 16, her mother entered her into the Chorus Line at the well-known Cotton Club. Unfortunately, while traveling on tour through Hollywood, Lena experienced extensive discrimination. She was considered too "brown" to be white and too "light" to be black. Hayton was an arranger, conductor, and composer, but he was also white. The couple had to be secretive about their relationship, so they hid their marriage for almost three years. Shortly after Lena's father and son passed away in 1973, Lena lost Hayton, as well. Lena was quoted in a New York Times article that she gave credit to Hayton for teaching her to accept love.

Clarence Thomas and Virginia Lamp

Clarence Thomas married lobbyist, and aide to the Republican Congressman Dick Armey, Virginia Lamp. Thomas became the nation's second African-American Supreme court Justice, breaking racial barriers as a result. Thomas had a son from a previous marriage and he began to raise his 6-year-old nephew in 1997. Oddly enough, his firm conservative views have kind of made him an outcast in the black community.

Frederick Douglass and Helen Pitts

Frederick Douglas spent 38 years of his life as a slave. He married Anna Murray once he was finally able to escape enslavement. He was an inspiring author and an advocate for American unity and social change. The couple brought five children into the world before Anna died. Douglas would later marry white abolitionist, Helen Pitts. In 1895, Douglas gave an inspirational speech about women's suffrage but passed away soon after.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

After meeting unexpectedly at a London art exhibit, John Lennon and Yoko Ono courted one another for three years. They eventually got married, which led to, what many people consider, they end of The Beatles. Lennon was an integral part of the iconic band, but because Yoko was constantly in the studio trying to join in on songs, it was difficult to keep the band together. Maybe Lennon should have stayed with his first wife, who was the polar opposite of Yoko.

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Alice Walker and Mel Leventhal

Alice Walker and Mel Leventhal were married in 1967, in Jackson, Mississippi. Walker, who used her undeniable talent to write "The Color Purple," fought hard to abolish anti-miscegenation laws, which prevented blacks and whites from becoming married. When Mississippi abolished the anti-miscegenation laws in 1967, Walker married white, Jewish civil rights lawyer, Melvyn Leventhal. This power couple fought hard to fight the laws of injustice. The couple had one daughter but divorced in 1976.

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Sir Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus

You may know Sidney Poitier from his iconic roles in movies such as: "In the Heat of the Night," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," and "Lillies of the Field." In 1976, Poitier married the Canadian actress, Joanna Shimkus. Due to Poitier's national exposure and star power, the 1960s would prove to be a difficult time for the interracial couple in the scrutinous eyes of the public. This happy couple has been together for over 40 years!

O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson

This interracial relationship once broke social barriers, but it turned into one of the most gruesomely poignant events in American history. O.J. Simpson was certainly adored by his fans. Simpson was the first African-American athlete to rise above color barriers and earned international fame from his Hertz commercials. Simpson also had a successful acting career thanks to his appearance in movies like "The Naked Gun." Everything came undone for Simpson when he divorced his wife, Nicole Smith. Simpson was later charged and tried for the murders of his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman. Even though Simpson wasn't found guilty of the murders, the questions about the justice system, race, and the influence that media has on society would remain unanswered.

Wikipedia

Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt

Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt were married in May of 1966, and were probably the most persecuted interracial couple of all time. Britt was a bombshell actress from Sweden, and Davis, one of the most sought-after entertainers in Hollywood, was a member of the infamous "Rat Pack". In 1960, 31 US States had banned interracial marriages. It's rumored that JFK's father, Joseph Kennedy, asked Davis to postpone the wedding until after the election in November. Joseph Kennedy thought that JFK was going to lose votes if his friend Davis proceeded with the taboo wedding. Even though he was hesitant, Davis agreed. Britt and David became parents to a daughter and they also adopted two daughters.

Bruce Lee and Linda Emery

Bruce Lee married a white woman named Linda Emery in 1964. This couple received a large amount of discrimination, especially from their own families. Lee also faced prejudiced from his Asian and Hollywood communities. Lee would eventually become a martial arts legend! His concepts of fighting were way ahead of his time. And the fighting system he created was turned into what we know today as "Mixed Martial Arts".

Sammy Davis Jr and Kim Novak

Before Sammy Davis Jr. was with Britt, he was involved in a sultry affair with the stunning actress, Kim Novak. Novak starred in Hitchcock's "Vertigo," as well as plenty of other Hollywood hits. Racial tensions were so great at the time that it's rumored that Sammy had a hit put out on him by the mafia. Apparently, James Dean came to his defense, but Sammy married a black showgirl out of fear for his life. It's believed that the showgirl was paid $25,000 for the fake marriage. Quite expectedly, the marriage was annulled shortly after the wedding. Davis died of throat cancer in 1990, but Davis' third wife allowed Novak to see him before he passed. They spent hours reminiscing and talking for hours before he died.

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George Schuyler and Josephine Cogdell

Schuyler and Cogdell were married in the 1920s. The couple had to be so secretive about the marriage that they had to write that Codgell identified herself as colored, even though she was white. George Schuyler, having interviewed Malcolm X, was considered a well-known black journalist. Schuyler started his career as a left-wing journalist but later switched his affiliation to the right. Josephine Cogdell was extremely wealthy. The model-dancer-actress came from a family that previously owned slaves. The couple fell in love with one another over their passion for writing about their left-wing beliefs. Their relationship was ignited after being long distance pen-pals!

Carl Van Vechten / Public Domain

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle

When Prince Harry announced that he was engaged to Meghan Markle, an American actress, in 2018, he created a feeding frenzy for tabloids. A Guardian headline stated: "When Meghan weds Harry, Britain's relationship with race will change forever." In a strange twist, a baroness named Kate Gavron made a bold statement 20 years prior to the engagement. She encouraged Prince Charles to marry a black woman because she thought that it would make it clear that the monarchy was committed to equality and racial integration. Let's just say that her suggestions were not taken into consideration!

Mark Jones / Creative Commons

Bill de Blasio and Charlene McCray

In the US, interracial marriage is at an all-time high. The elected mayor of New York in 2013, Bill de Blasio, was the first white official to be elected into office a black spouse standing by his side. America reached another milestone thanks to de Blasio and his wife. American still has a long way to go, it's certainly on its way to achieving true equality.

Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Josephine Baker and Jean Lion

Josephine Baker was a true jazz icon when she married a white fella named Jean Lion in 1937. Baker has claimed that she was proposed to over 15,000 times by different men. Baker moved to Paris, where she became a resistance agent and civil rights activist. Because she believed that Paris "embraced her", Baker eventually moved out of the U.S. Baker was married later to Jean Lion, who became the luckiest one out of 15,000 suitors.

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Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter

The Lovings, who met as children, are one of the most famous interracial couples in the history of America. The couple moved to Washington D.C. when Mildred became pregnant at the age of 18. They decided to move there because they hoped their marriage wouldn't be looked at as illegal. Unfortunately, the couple was arrested five weeks after their wedding. Mildred wrote a letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to ask for his help. That's when RFK turned to the American Civil Liberties Union. The Loving's case made it to the supreme court and after fighting for 9 years, their arrest was finally overturned.

Wikipedia

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Jessie Walmisley

Samuel Coleridge married pianist, and former classmate from high school, Jessie Walmisley in 1899. Coleridge-Taylor was one of the world's most accomplished composers, and by the turn of the 20th century, he was the most famous composer in Britain. Walmisley's family didn't agree with the wedding and did everything they could to stop it from happening, but they didn't succeed. Even though they were hated all over Britain, they stayed married until Coleridge-Taylor passed away.

Library of Congress / Public Domain

Alice Jones and Leonard Kip Rhinelander

Alice Jones was humiliated daily for being a bi-racial woman in the working class. Jones married the wealthy New York socialite with a defined speech impediment, Leonard Kip Rhinelander, in 1924. As soon as the New York Social Register announced their engagement, which stated that Jones was colored, the shame of Jones began. Rhinelander's family didn't waste a moment to demand that the couple get a divorce. Rhinelander pretended that Jones told him that she was purely white. In a humiliating turn of events, Jones was forced to stand naked in the courtroom during the annulment hearing to prove that she was part black. There she stood naked, receiving judgment to determine her "true" race. Seven years later, Rhinelander died of pneumonia at the age of 33. Jones eventually passed away in 1989.

Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham

As a lot of you know, this infamous couple was together for only a short amount of time. They met at the University of Hawaii, where they both attended. Obama Sr. was the first foreign student from Africa. Once Ann became pregnant, the couple decided to get married, even though Obama Sr. was already married with one child in Kenya. Dunham gave birth to the future president on August 4, 1961, when she was only 18. Once Obama Sr. graduated from the University of Hawaii, he moved to Cambridge, Mass to finish school at Harvard. Dunham filed for an uncontested divorce in 1964, and her parents helped her raise Barack Jr. Dunham finished her doctoral dissertation in 1992, and received her Ph.D. in anthropology. Dunham, unfortunately, died in 1995 from uterine cancer.

Wikipedia

Gonzalo Guerrero and Zazil Ha

This couple was the first documented interracial relationship in the history of the world. The Spanish sailor, Gonzalo Guerrero, was shipwrecked along the Yucatan Peninsula. He was captured by the local Mayans and became a highly respected warrior in the Mayan tribe. He eventually married the Mayan princess Zazil Ha, and they later had three children.

Lindsey Vonn and P.K. Subban

This couple may not be married, but their relationship is still unprecedented. Subban is a part of the NHL, which has a limited number of black athletes. Vonn is a professional American skier and she's definitely not scared to share her political opinions. “We love each other very much," she said recently. It's rumored that these two are very close to getting married!

@ subbanator / Instagram