December 1, 2023

Houston’s real ‘Black Love’ stories

By: N. L. Preston

In the movie “Jerry Maguire,” all women – of every race, color and creed — fell in love with Tom Cruise when he told Renee Zellweger the famous line, “you complete me,” and even before that memorable movie scene, couples have been looking for that everlasting love that makes them feel whole. Whether it’s Cruise or the smooth Billy Dee Williams asking Diana (Billie Holiday) if she was going to let his hand fall off, people not only want the love – but the love story.

It’s that James and Florida Evans “Good Times” love, that Barack and Michelle Obama “Presidential” love, that modern-day “Bonnie and Clyde” Jay Z and Beyonce love and, when it comes to our Biblical inspiration, it’s that Boaz and Ruth love.

It’s not make-believe characters conjured up by the creatives, #BlackLove is REAL and can be attained, but once you find it, you need to know how to keep it.

African-American News&Issues spoke to some of our favorite #RelationshipGoals power couples, from every generation, asking them their secrets about a life worth living — with the one who is worthy of sharing it with.

Traditional Love

AANI publishers Roy Douglas and Shirley Ann Malonson have been married for 38 years, and for the last 26, they have been together 24 hours a day, 365 days a year as the successful business owners work together. Mr. Malonson is 70 years old, and his wife is 82 and it takes less than five minutes of sitting in their presence to realize what true love and support looks like. They have each other’s backs, with mutual admiration and respect.

How they met: “We met over the phone trying to do a real estate deal, I was trying to buy property from her. After about a year of conversations, she finally agreed to meet me in person and we met at the Groovey Grill in Third Ward, she insisted we meet in a public place,” Mr. Malonson explained.

He knew she was the one for him, but he had more convincing to do.

“She wouldn’t have too much to do with me, so it was about a month before we went on our first date and then we were married within a year,” he said…and the rest, as they say, is history.

Secret to a happy marriage: Respecting one another and not trying to change one another. Open communication is key and let each other shine at they are good at.

“Did you get married for everything or one particular thing?” Mr. Malonson asks. “Marriage is a union, not a division. Forget about “roles,” let the other person do what he or she does best.”

Fun Fact: Mrs. Malonson is better at managing business affairs and Mr. Malonson is better at cooking!


Opposites attract

Terence and Dr. Stacey Reed (Family Medicine); Owners, Vintage Horse Carriage Company

How did you meet: “I was a patient in her office and one day I told her I liked her and she said, ‘if I call you, you will never be my patient again due to HIPAA laws,’” Terence explained, deciding he was still going to “shoot his best shot.”

“I actually told a lady in the waiting room that Dr. Jones was going to be my wife one day. I gave her my number and luckily, she called me and from that moment on, I was no longer her patient. Now she is Dr. Stacey Jones-Reed,” he proudly said.

But Terence was a little slower making it official. The two were together for 12 years before he proposed. Dr. Jones told him enough time had passed and it was time for them to get married. He knew he did not want to live without her in his life and he gave her a ring on Super Bowl Sunday. They have been married since October 2018.

Secret to lasting relationship: Being honest with one another. You can’t lie to each other, and you must get out and do things together. Overall, you must both serve God. We truly believe that a family that prays together stays together.


World Wide Web Love

 Reginald Stidum (small business owner) and Tera Stidum (news producer)

Tera explored the world of online dating, which led her to the man she describes as her tall, caramel latte of love; her Papa Bear! Their success story inspired Tera to become a dating coach, helping other women find love online. After launching her business “She Dates Savvy,” Tera has been on various local and national television appearances, including the Steve Harvey Show.

How did you meet?

“Our first date was on a Wednesday, and by that Thursday he was like, ‘Just want to make sure you understand that I’m interested in us being together. Not here for any games,” Tera explained and nope, Reginald was not playing.

He proposed after nine months – on Tera’s birthday in 2015 – and they married four months later in March 2016.

“We were both grown and knew we had found our “one.” Plus, we had our own money and there was no need to wait,” Tera explained. “We didn’t need to save for a wedding and weren’t waiting for parents to pay or anything like that. We got married on a yacht in Kemah!”

Secret to successful marriage: Communication –even if it’s hard or it hurts. Never fight when you’re MAD–let cooler heads prevail; words can’t be taken back and can hurt a relationship. The only spicy and heated part of your marriage should be your SEX LIFE! And finally, laugh often, be silly, have fun!

It’s going down in the DM!

Donald and Brandi Bowie, owners of Taste Bar and Kitchen in Midtown

How did you meet: “He hit me up in my Instagram DM (direct message),” Brandi said.

Brandi, a popular makeup artist, made a social media post about needing to get her own oil for her car changed, and Chef Bowie responded by saying he would take care of it for her next time. That got her attention, but she still played it safe.

It took about six more months of online “flirting” communications before Brandi finally agreed to meet him in person at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, where the chef was being honored. He proposed in less than a month and she said yes, and they secretly married four months later. They had a lavish ceremony a year later at BMW Katy, surrounded by family and friends.

Secret to a lasting love: “The secret is to fight the problem instead of fighting each other, because if you fight each other it is going to tear you apart, but if you fight the problem, it keeps you connected,” Brandi said.


‘Love in the Club’

Reginald and Erica Joseph, co-founders Rowdy Riders Trail Riders

How they met: “We met at nightclub in 2004 and dated for four years before getting married in August 2008,” Erica explained.

How do you make it last? “Communication, trust and always remain friends. If anybody tells you their stuff is perfect, they are lying,” Erica shared. “We have had our rollercoasters up and down. We have done the most, but we stuck it out! It took us 13 years to get it together and this is the happiest year of our lives.”

Reginald had a simpler answer, “Laughter. If I keep her smiling, she will keep me happy in the “romantic” ways. I just love my wife.”


‘Full Circle’ Love

Rev. Bruce Jackson (retired Marine and law enforcement officer) and Junell Jackson (retired teacher)

How we met: We met each other at George Washington Carver High School, and I took her to the football banquet. She was my neighbor. I thought she was my date, but her mother brought her to the banquet and picked her up.

After graduating, Bruce went off to the Marine Corps for eight years, followed by a career in law enforcement for 30 years. During one of his returns home, he reached out to his neighbor, Junell, for help.

“When he came home from the service, he called me and said, ‘Junell, will you come and take me to get my new car?’ I took Bruce to get his 396 Chevy Chevelle and when we turned out of parking lot, that is the last time I saw him for 28 years,” Junell said.

And nearly three decades later, Bruce came calling again.

“I asked a friend, ‘have you seen Junell?’ The friend said yes and called to ask her if they could pass me her number. I got her number and I still have it,” Bruce said.


“He called me and he asked if he can come by and see me. And the moment he got out of that truck, I said to myself, ‘Oh my God,’ and we have been together ever since. A year later, we got married. I’ve always known that God designed me just for him.”

Junell told Bruce that she wanted to be married before she turned 70 and he knew he had to make that happen.

“At the end of 50 plus years, we became husband and wife,” Bruce shared. “I met her in Acres Home and I am back in Acres Home with her now. On Sept. 21, 2019, we tied the knot.”

The couple’s specials song is “It’s so easy to love you,” by the Temptations. They played that and other Motown hits at their wedding.

Their message: “Black love, once you meet it and you got it, you never let it go,” Bruce advised. “She was my rib, I didn’t know it then, but I know it now.”

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