Bill and Camille Cosby
While the relationship between Cliff and Clair Huxtable is one we hold in high esteem, Bill Cosby’s real-life marriage is also worthy of admiration. Despite the tragic loss of their only son in 1997 and being rocked by sexual harassment charges brought against Bill in 2006, their 48-year union is a testament to the idea of sticking together through thick and thin.
Denzel and Pauletta Washington
Denzel Washington, everyone’s favorite leading man, has been devoted to his leading lady, Pauletta, for 29 years. The couple renewed their wedding vows in South Africa in 1995. The secret to their success? “Do what she tells me,” Denzel said in a 2010 interview.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé
What fans find most compelling about Jay-Z and Beyoncé is their commitment to each other — and to their privacy. The famously tight-lipped couple, who began dating in 2001, didn’t publicly announce their relationship for years. They wed in a private ceremony in 2008 and just welcomed their first child, Blue Ivy Carter, earlier this year. We don’t know much about their personal life, but secret shout-outs and sly lyrics from both artists suggest that even 10 years later, these two are still dangerously in love.
Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King
The first couple of the civil rights movement inspired an entire generation. The Kings were married in 1953, and in his autobiography Dr. King wrote of his wife, “I am indebted to my wife Coretta, without whose love, sacrifices and loyalty neither life nor work would bring fulfillment. She has given me words of consolation when I needed them and a well-ordered home where Christian love is a reality.”
Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis
Davis and Dee belong to the court of black-love royalty. They were married for 57 years before Davis’ death in 2005. In their joint autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, they wrote about their decision to try an open marriage, ultimately realizing that it wasn’t for them. Not only were they committed to each other, but they were also committed to service, fighting actively and passionately together for civil rights.
Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson
Ashford and Simpson’s enduring marriage was proof positive that Hollywood relationships can last a lifetime. In a land where seven-year relationships are considered “a good run,” Ashford and Simpson were married for 38 years, until Ashford’s death in 2011. And as every good love story is full of even better love songs, this couple gave us some of the most memorable tunes of all time, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.“
Will and Jada Smith
The Smiths have been the poster couple for modern black love since they wed in 1997. So when rumors emerged that they were preparing to divorce, fans were shocked, fearing that their split signaled the end of successful black marriages. The couple and Will’s older son, Trey, have since gone on record to say that the divorce rumors are untrue, and now the state of black love can remain intact. For now the couple seems happy basking in the success of their two soon-to-be superstar kids, Willow and Jayden.
Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker
There is a lot to admire about actors Kodjoe and Parker. They’ve been married for six years, have two beautiful children and are vocal about the hard work it takes to make a relationship last. Oh, and they are both drop-dead gorgeous. How do they keep their relationship spicy? “Nicole and I make a big effort to keep it sexy. We go out on dates, we work out together and we make sure we look good for the other,” he told Vibe in 2010.
Carmelo Anthony and La La Vasquez
Since Anthony signed with the Knicks, he and his wife have become New York’s first couple and the newest picture of black love. Vasquez, whom the New York Times crowned the “first lady of the NBA,” has a favorite black couple of her own. “I love Will Smith and Jada Pinkett,” she told the New York Times. “You see the love, and you can see the support, and they partner on things and produce together. But she has a life, and he has a life.”
Muhammad and Yolanda Ali
After three failed marriages, boxing icon Muhammad Ali married Yolanda “Lonnie” Ali in 1986, and they’ve been together ever since. The couple had been friends since 1969, and Lonnie has been an active supporter of Parkinson’s disease research since her husband’s diagnosis in 1984.
Grant and Tamia Hill
NBA all-star Grant Hill and singer Tamia wed in 1999. Four years later, Tamia was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That same year, Grant contracted a life-threatening disease that almost cost him his NBA career. Thankfully, Grant beat his illness and Tamia’s symptoms have regressed, making the Hills a prime example of sticking together in sickness and in health.
Nelson and Winnie Mandela
Nelson and Winnie are no longer together, but that doesn’t take anything away from their impact on their native South Africa and on the world. In what would be Nelson’s second marriage, he wed Winnie in 1958 and was sent to prison in 1962. Winnie stayed devoted to Nelson throughout much of his 27-year prison sentence, but the couple separated in 1992, two years before Nelson became president of South Africa. Winnie, a polarizing, controversial activist who is affectionately referred to as “mother of the nation” by her supporters, remains an important figure in South African history.
Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz
Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz were champions of black freedom and equality in America. In 1955 the two met at a dinner party where they shared stories of their experiences of racism. “I really had a lot of pent-up anxiety about my experience in the South,” Shabazz said in a 1990 interview, “and Malcolm reassured me that it was understandable how I felt.” After a long courtship, the two wed in 1958 and had six daughters.
Jackie and Rachel Robinson
Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player, broke the color lines in America’s favorite pastime with Rachel Robinson by his side. The couple wed in 1946 and were together until his death in 1972. To honor her late husband’s memory, Rachel opened the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that awards scholarships to minority students, in 1973.
Barack and Michelle Obama
This list wouldn’t be complete without our president and first lady. Married for nearly 20 years, the Obamas are black love personified and received the most votes from our readers for favorite famous black couple.
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