By Jessica Easthope
Millie and Fred Fulford said back in 1980 friends and family called them brave for entering into an interracial marriage.
It wasn’t easy all those years ago and still isn’t today.
“My mother got a lot of flack for that from the Spanish community of older women, you know, like ‘how could you let your daughter marry a black man,’ ” Millie said.
“When we go into the store and we’re standing in line my wife goes up to the cashier and I go up to the cashier with her,” Fred said. “They say, ‘Sir could you step back.’ I say, ‘I’m with her.’ I’ve been with her for 40-something years.”
It was something that never mattered to them, especially when their love story started nearly 50 years ago in the Gowanus housing projects. Early on in their relationship, instead of letting in hate, they let in Christ.
“Faith has been the foundation of our marriage and working through those really difficult times.”
Through decades together and raising a son, there were some difficult times.
As parishioners of St. Agnes Church, Millie and Fred have worked with the kids of the community for decades and eventually married couples, telling them, ‘Your marriage and your faith will be tested.’
“I call them the ebbs and flows of marriage.” Anyone that tells you it’s a straight line or everything’s been great that’s just not the reality.”
Millie and Fred want to be an example, not of a perfect marriage, but of an imperfect love, one that’s endured even the most tragic of circumstances.
“We were actually separated for like six months,” Millie said. “I had a miscarriage right at that time and that really blew the roof off of everything, that was the biggest test. But we managed to fight back and we have that Church system in us so we worked it out. With God in our life, it made it that much easier to deal with the situation.”
Looking back at it, the couple know now the real bravery wasn’t getting together, but rather staying together.