This Valentine’s Day I’m straying away from the literary and plunging into history, choosing amazing, influential couples that changed the world. Love, in all it’s forms, is what the world needs most. I hope you enjoy these couples who challenged perceptions, challenged the status quo and forced the world to conform around their new age.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King
Martin and Coretta, for the sake of simplicity, were the faces of the Civil Rights Movement for many people. Martin’s marriage to Coretta was a partnership that was both beautiful and powerful, but it had its difficulties. Being so heavily involved in Civil Rights they were the target of countless attacks and vitriol. Martin was arrested several times and Coretta raised four children through all of that. They were strong, loving and committed to each other and to the cause that was indescribably important. Despite being separated by death when he was assassinated in 1968, Coretta took his message and fought for the rights of millions in the years afterwards. Activists, leaders, legends, the King’s remain as important today as they have always been. There is so much more to say about them both, but for the sake of this post I will stop h
Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok
Eleanor and Lorena are one of the most well known queer partnerships in American history, though there is still some debate on the exact nature of their relationship. I’m leaning towards optimism that they were a romantic couple. Based on the many letters they exchanged the pair had a deep and loving relationship that cooled into friendship with the demands of politics and the onset of WW2. Lorena was a reporter who covered Roosevelt’s rise and became a close companion to Eleanor for a few brief years. Despite the short nature of their relationship, it is a beacon of light in the otherwise overwhelmingly heteronormative history of America.
Mildred and Richard Loving
These two are famous for the case of Loving v. Virginia in which the Supreme Court overturned the laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Prior to the SCOTUS decision they were forced to flee Virginia and lived for five years in Washington DC where they raised their three children. They were supported by the ACLU (which still continues to fight for justice today) and their case eventually made it to the Supreme Court. In 1967 the ban on interracial marriage was struck down, allowing love to win and setting an additional precedent to push through same-sex marriage (albeit many years later). They were married for seventeen years until a drunk driver struck their vehicle and Richard passed from his injuries.
Alexander the Great and General Hephaestion
Alexander is known as the Conqueror who brought most of the Mediterranean and Persia to heel. He had countless paramours in his short life, but one of the most formative was one of his generals, Hephaestion. They were best friends as well as (most likely) intimate partners, meeting in their youth and working together to bring Alexander an empire. Homosexual relationship were reasonably common and accepted in the culture where Alexander grew up so I lean towards Alexander and Hephaestion having been lovers.
Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognized buildings in the world. It is a symbol of the love between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The Shah had several wives but Mumtaz was his favourite, most intimate companion. Their marriage combined a noble Persian house with the formidable Mughal Empire. She accompanied him everywhere and also served as his advisor. They had fourteen children together and she died in childbirth with the last. They were married for nineteen years and after she passed the Shah ordered the construction of the Taj Mahal after a two year mourning period. It took twenty two years to construct and the energy of thousands. The Shah ended up outliving Mumtaz by thirty five years and never took another wife (though the ones he already had were allowed to remain) to show his devotion to her.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
Frida and Diego are two of the most famous Mexican artists in popular memory.Their love was tumultuous and they actually married twice, divorcing and remarrying a year later. There is a twenty year age difference between them and their families opposed the match. Their two marriage culminated in a twenty four year partnership. Affairs, health problems and differing opinions caused many bumps in their relationship, but they remain iconic. Frida will get her own World Changing Women post in April.
Thanks for stopping by!