My parents were married in the mid-1940s. My siblings and I are not certain of the exact date. We are learning there are many things we never knew.
They came from the South, Arkansas and Tennessee. And left soon after marrying for the freedom of the West.
Mixed marriages were not accepted in the South and especially not in 1940. And this is where the story takes an interesting twist. Because until very recently, I was not aware it was a mixed marriage.
For my entire childhood and into my adult life, my mother held a secret close to her heart. She had told her children that she was French Creole, a rich mix of French and Black ancestry, with a little German thrown in. Now we know that Mom was a descendant of an English Mother and a German Father. No French, no African-American – ALL European.
So you may ask, why the deception. Surely, she knew her lineage.
I think it goes back to marrying a black man in the 1940s. I will repeat my initial statement; mixed marriages were not accepted in the South and especially given the climate of the early 1940s.
Life during this time was filtered through the lens of World War II. The prevailing culture was anti-German and anti-Japanese yet, segregation was still enforced. Blacks were given access to serve in the military and to work in the defense industry. Yet, they faced racism, unequal pay, unequal freedom, and death – even death by lynching. For African – Americans separate and unequal was the reality.
When Mom and Dad walked down the aisle, my mother walked away from everything she knew – family, friends, identity, history because of love. She never looked back, but rather committed to a life that would, at times, be lonely, unrelenting, and painful.
From that day forward, she recognized herself as Creole. An identity that was far safer than the one given her at birth. On every critical document (marriage certificate and census status), she checked the box that identified her as black. Her original birth certificate mysteriously burned in a fire. No copy of the document available.
Her love displayed in a selfless cover-up.
She willingly sacrificed all to share life with her husband and give life to her children.
I often wonder if she ever looked back. When life pressed in, did she regret walking away? When her husband broke her heart or her children disappointed, did she long for what had been? I will never know. But I do know that she stood strong, stayed true, and loved despite it all.
The Apostle Paul shared a biblical definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
New Living Translation (NLT)
I’ve learned that my Mother practiced this definition, her
Love never gave up,
She never lost faith,
She remained hopeful, and
Endured through every circumstance.
Sisters, we have a Heavenly Father that loves us unconditionally, sacrificially. For love, He sacrificed His only Son, allowing Him to die for our sins.
His love will never give up or lose faith. Instead, He will patiently protect and persevere. He will never stop pursuing you, His BeLoved.
For more information about African-American history in the 1940s, please visit the links below.