On a plane ride back from Ketchikan, Alaska, a flight attendant stopped to compliment a passenger on his startling blue eyes.

Days later, the flight attendant, Mardra, received a three-page handwritten love letter from Chris, the blue-eyed passenger, with his phone number inscribed at the bottom. They met in person on a layover two weeks later, the entire flight crew in tow to catch a glimpse of the fated mystery man.

"You know, I was married, and I have a child," Mardra told Chris. "If you're not fine with that, thank you for coming out."


"I would love to take you out to dinner," he replied. A year later, they were married.

Chris and Mardra marrying in 1981. Photo courtesy of Chris Jay.

Though their earnest romance might seem like it was lifted directly from the pages of a Nicholas Sparks novel, Chris and  Mardra Jay will tell you there's more to their story.

It was the 1980s. She was black, and he was white. It had been a long time since 1967, the seminal year that Mildred and Richard Loving famously used their own love to overturn the ban on interracial marriage. Still, there was a long way to go.

Mardra recalls that often her husband's acquaintances wouldn't treat her with respect.

"They would say, 'You know your wife is colored, right?' Right in front of me," she says, adding that she felt like the two of them were a classroom for people who had never been exposed to an interracial couple.

Chris, 67, and Mardra, 72. Image courtesy of Chris Jay.

Now in their 60s and 70s, Chris and Mardra know there's been a lot of progress since they were young. Once a rarity, multiracial children are the second-fastest growing segment of the U.S. population according to official census data, and interracial marriage has lost much of its former taboo.

We spoke to four other interracial couples about their relationships in America today, and how far they think the nation has come.

1. Jill and Juan Cortés.

Juan, 60, and Jill Cortés, 55.  Image courtesy of Jill Cortés.

Though no one would say it, Jill Cortés often suspected the neighbors were only polite to her and her Latino husband, Juan, because of his social status.

"Sometimes I feel that they wouldn't have talked to us, but they did because Juan was a doctor. If he was a blue-collar worker, maybe people wouldn't have associated with us," she recalls.

Juan said that friends and family were always supportive, though he didn't remember a lot of interracial couples — or racial tolerance — growing up when his family would visit Texas.

"I remember being a teenager and being afraid to walk into a restaurant," he says. "I worry it's headed that way again."

2. John Krause and Maria Chua.

John Krause, 48, and Maria Chua, 45. Image courtesy of John Krause.

When John Krause and Maria Chua got married, they had to contend with racism from his mother.

One night after dinner, she took Maria aside to tell her that "it would be very difficult for the children."

"It literally got to the point where I had to tell my parents, if I have to pick between my parents and Maria, I'm picking Maria," Krause says, adding that, "sometimes people don't realize when they're being racist."

John's parents eventually came around, and the couple now has two daughters.

3. Neelam Pathikonda and Lisa DeWolf.

Lisa DeWolf, 43, and Neelam Pathikonda, 39. Image courtesy of Neelam Pathikonda.

After meeting on Facebook through mutual friends, Neelam Pathikonda asked Lisa DeWolf on a date.

"I saw Lisa and pretty much lightweight stalked her online," Neelam says with a laugh. After they met, Lisa sold her house, quit her job, and moved to L.A. to be with Neelam. They married in 2013, in a traditional Hindu ceremony.

Neelam Pathikonda and Lisa Dewolf during their wedding. Photo courtesy of Neelam Pathikonda.

The wedding made some family members — especially those who hadn't originally supported their union— change their mind.

"With the legalization of gay marriage and our big Hindu wedding, my mom definitely came around. She realized that this wasn't a phase," Neelam says, adding that it had been 12 years since she had come out.

When the couple finally had a child, Neelam's father came around too.

Lisa and Neelam are nervous about what a Trump presidency will mean for them and their daughter. Still, they don't plan on giving up their rights anytime soon.

"I think that certainly there has been progress made. Queer clubs used to be raided by the police, and as a community, we've come so far and we're still demanding more," Neelam explains.

4. Ben and Constance Hawkes.

Ben, 30, and Constance Hawkes, 29. Photo courtesy of Ben Hawkes

Growing up as millennials, Ben and Constance Hawkes noticed a change in how mixed-race couples were treated.

"I've been pleasantly surprised with how supportive my friends and family have been," Ben says, acknowledging that being white, he can't speak for his wife's experience.

For Constance, she's had to contend with annoying comments about how "well-spoken" she is or people's ideas that racism no longer exists.

Despite the deep hostility felt through the election cycle, Ben and Constance are hopeful.

"We've just seen so much more representation of mixed-race couples in TV shows, in the media," Constance explains.  

The last law banning interracial marriage in the United States was officially repealed in Alabama in 2000. Yet today, race relations in the U.S. are at a boiling point.

We've come a long way since 1967, but these couples and their experiences shed light on ways we can create a more tolerant world.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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