Black History Month: 20 Inspiring Celebrity Love Stories

In honor of Black History Month, we’re paying tribute to some of the most moving romances of our time.

Charli Penn Feb, 08, 2012

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As dazzling as our President’s words and leadership have been, it’s his public displays of affection for First Lady Michelle Obama, and their children, that has touched millions in more emotional ways. They met in the summer of 1988 at the law firm where they worked. It was love sweet love and the two would go on to forge an unbreakable bond and ride their version of the American dream right to the gates of the White House.

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In 1952, when Coretta Scott’s friend introduced her to Martin Luther King Jr., she saw a man looking for a wife, though she wasn’t sure she was ready. Yet, she trusted her gut, and opened up to the man who she would eventually marry in 1953, and would soon become one of the greatest civil rights leaders of our time. After his assassination, she showed unmatched strength and courage as she continued to keep his legacy alive until her death in 2006, at the age of 78.

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Actress Ruby Dee married the late, great Ossie Davis in 1948, and for over 50 years their journey took them to theaters, stages, and audio booths, together. One can’t speak of Black love in Hollywood without referring to this unstoppable duo, who made a difference both on and off-screen. They were well known civil rights activists, and close personal friends with icons like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesse Jackson – teaching their fans that love really can help change the world.

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By far one of the strongest unions in politics, general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and audiologist Alma Powell, have been representing for Black love on Capitol Hill since before most of us even knew of the Obamas. They were wed just two weeks after getting engaged and their bond has been a sure thing ever since.

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Can you believe it’s been 22 years since NBA legend Magic Johnson walked down the aisle with Cookie, his high school sweetheart? After his HIV diagnosis, she stood by his side through seemingly impossible circumstances, showing us all the true meaning of unconditional love, and that it has the power to heal. With their many, many years of philanthropy and devotion to each other, their marriage is a daily inspiration.

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South Carolina native Nick Ashford met Bronx girl Valerie Simpson at a Harlem church in 1963. It was love at first sight. The pair formed a group and began pursuing their musical dreams together. Both songwriters and singers, they went on to top the charts together penning hits including “I’m Every Woman," “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough." In 2011, Ashford passed away and left Simpson to continue their legacy.

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When love’s in question, conventional wisdom says that when you know, you know. Such was the case when a young Denzel Washington met actress and beauty queen Pauletta Pearson, in 1983, on the set of his first on-screen role. The couple fell madly in love and went on to raise four beautiful children together, all while the mister played one great role after another and earned himself a top spot on Hollywood’s A-list.

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Marriage is about hanging in there through sickness and health. No one knows that better than singer Tamia and her husband of 14 years, retired NBA player, Grant Hill. Just four years after saying, “I do," Tamia was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease affecting the brain and spinal cord, while Grant’s ankle injuries almost cost him his career. Through it all, they persevered.

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Actors and former models Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe met and fell in love on the set of their hit show Soul Food. The happy couple resides in Atlanta where they live with their daughter Sophie, who has spina bifida, and their son, Neruda. They’ve fought to increase awareness about their daughter’s illness, and are always transparent about the challenges parenting a child with special needs brings.

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When you’ve got good love, you hold on tight. Actress Holly Robinson,and former NFL player Rodney Peete know this for sure. The couple, who’ve been married for 18 years, has been blessed with four beautiful children, one of whom has autism. Robinson Peete is deeply devoted to the fight to raise awareness for autism groups, and she frequently credits her husband for holding things down at home.

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There’s no stopping Mr. and Mrs. Smith! They’ve been Hollywood’s “it” couple forever, and despite constantly battling rumors surrounding their marital status, they still make marriage, love and parenting in the limelight look effortless. Kudos to the couple for keeping the love alive, despite the odds.

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Happily married since 1981 — with five kids — Bishop T.D. Jakes and his wife, author Serita Jakes, have become champions for abstinence and the faith-based marriage. Watching them expand their legacy of love to big screens and bookstores near you has only deepened our respect for the dynamic duo.

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Fourteen years ago, college sweethearts Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance (they met at Yale School of Drama) tied the knot. As both their careers took off, the couple was blessed with two little miracles – twins born via surrogate after years of trying to conceive. A staple on the Black love scene, the love they share shines through and they’re proving each day that parenting and success can go hand in hand.

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Despite what many dating experts would have you believe, a powerful woman can have an equal amount of love and success in her life. Just ask Oprah Winfrey. She and businessman Stedman Graham make their own rules when it comes to love, and appear all the merrier for it.

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Former RUN-D.M.C. member Reverend Run and his wife Justine Simmons were one of the first Black families to allow reality TV cameras into their home, and not act the fool. Paving the way for many more positive examples of Black love to make it onto our screens.

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Maintaining a long-lasting love in the Hollywood spotlight is no easy feat. Spike and Tonya Lewis Lee’s 20-year union is a true testimonial that not only defies the odds of many Tinseltown romances, but a story that proves Black love lives on.

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After losing nearly her entire family at once to tragedy, Jennifer Hudson found incredible strength and solace within her bond with fiancé David Otunga. She recently revealed that loving him actually saved her life. She would have been there the day her family was murdered, but at the last moment chose to accept his invitation for a visit. The proud parents to son David continue to show that love has a miraculous healing power.

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Proving that true love can appear in the aftermath of heartbreak, when Mary J. Blige moved past the pain, she found her prince charming. After ending two very public and rocky relationships, she’s living happily ever after with her manager, and husband, Kendu Isaacs.

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When the queen of the charts meets and falls in love with the king of hip-hop, you know it’s a union for the history books. The unstoppable couple has shared record-breaking success, martial vows, and now, the joy of creating new life, with the birth of their baby daughter Blue Ivy Carter. Each year we can’t wait to see what this dynamic duo will do next. The sky’s the limit.