*(Via ParleMagazine.com) — Black love is an amazing thing!
Seeing any two people in love AND happy is often a rare sighting, which makes it even more noteworthy when you stumble upon a couple that you can tell is going to work.
It’s not always easy to tell from a distance with the false sense of reality that some people can put on display, but then there are times when love is so apparent, it’s hard not to notice it.
The genuine love of Kevin Byrd and Karen Pierre-Charles is that type of love.
Love and relationships in the urban community have become somewhat of the butt of the joke in the media over the last decade or so (Bobby & Whitney, Chris & Rihanna, the entire Love & Hip-Hop series, I can go on and on). More recent successful relationships like the Obamas, The Carters and even the Smiths have helped repair the image of the Black relationship, but successful pairs come along so few and far in between that I probably just named all of the ones that have been recognized! Therefore when I found out about the engagement and approaching nuptials of friend of Parlé, Kevin Byrd and his fiancé Karen Pierre-Charles, I had to admit that it was worth the spotlight. The same spotlight that everyday Caucasian couples receive in local and national publications.
Kevin Byrd, an actor, philanthropist and the founder of a nonprofit organization that provides a voice for prostate cancer, has been a spotlight of Parlé several times in the past, garnering covers and features since 2005. Generally the focus has been on his professional endeavors and successes, which include several films, an action figure created in his likeness and proclamations honoring his work by dozens of politicians and cities. Karen on the other hand has lived a more moderate life as a teacher in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She’s been teaching for 6 years following receiving her Master’s Degree from Columbia University.
The couple met through mutual friends after a prayer meeting at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. After church the group went out to dinner and as the night progressed Kevin and Karen instantly hit it off. The couple met in February of 2012 and 8 months later Kevin proposed.
Kevin Byrd and his future wife, Karen Pierre-Charles will be getting married on August 17, 2013 in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where her family resides. Their color arrangement will be orange and yellow.
The couple answered a few questions about their path to the altar. Check out their full love story below…
How did we meet?
We meet through mutual friends on a Tuesday night after a prayer meeting at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. We were actually invited out to eat that night with the mutual married couple. Karen was asked by the wife of this couple and Kevin was asked by the husband. We had no idea what they were up to but God did.
Kevin: I was clueless and wasn’t sure why Karen was there. I introduced myself to her and marveled at her sweet spirit and beauty. Karen told me her name and I said to her, “That’s my twin sister’s name!” We learned that we were born in the same month and shared some of the same interest and hobbies.
Karen: I didn’t know why Kevin was there either, I was just being cordial and gregarious. We ended up having a great conversation with each other.
Kevin: I remember exactly what Karen wore that day. After dinner, we walked Karen to the train station and that was it. I was upset with myself for not exchanging numbers with her. I thought I would never see her again. I asked the married couple for Karen’s phone number as we headed home that evening. They said that if I was interested I would have to get her number myself. About a month later, I finally got a hold of Karen. It took a lot of work just to take her out on a date. I had to get through two brothers, three pastors and her protective father. A laborious task to say the least but it was all worth it.
When we knew we were in love?
I knew I was in love with Kevin when I went away to Miami to visit family without him. I was gone for one month. I usually never miss anything or anyone in New York when I’m in Miami but I found myself missing Kevin like crazy. That’s when I realized that I was in love.
I knew I was in love with Karen when we had our first official date. We wore the same exact colors (an orange tee-shirt & blue jeans). It was a phenomenal date and I didn’t want the night to end. When the date was over I was just anticipating when I would see her again. That’s when I knew I was in love. I knew that she was going to be my wife one day. When God created her, He was thinking of me. I can’t imagine my life without her. She was sent from God just for me.
My most favorite attribute about Kevin is his heart. He has the biggest heart ever. He loves to give to others and just can’t help himself. Kevin loves to give not only his time but if he sees you without a shirt, he’ll give you his right off his back, then he’ll give you his shoes. In the world that we live in today, it’s hard to find someone who gives willingly and not under compulsion. Kevin is a good man and he has a great heart that just keeps on giving.
There are many attributes that I admire about Karen but my most favorite attribute is her character. Karen makes you feel good about yourself and encourages every chance she gets. She makes me want to strive to do more. Karen is so down to earth. She makes me feel happy even when I’m at my worst. When I’m feeling down and I’m hard on myself, she knows exactly what to say or do to make me feel better. Karen is such a beautiful woman, has the most vibrant smile, is a bright light and is a virtuous woman. I’m so blessed to have her in my life.
How He proposed?
Kevin proposed on October 14, 2012. This was on a Sunday afternoon after church. I hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before because I was working on a project for work. I managed to make it to church the next morning but when I arrived back to my apartment, I was so exhausted and fell asleep. Kevin called me several times while I tried to sleep asking me if I wanted to go out. “Want to go to a concert?…Want to go out and eat at Red Lobster?…Want to go for a walk in the park?.. I told him “no” each time and told him that I was trying to sleep. “Kevin, please just give me one hour to sleep… just one hour please.” I had no idea he was trying to take me out so that he could propose.
One hour later, guess who’s at my door? Kevin of course. He literally woke me up from my afternoon nap and proposed. He took out his bible and told me to read 1 Corinthians 13. We read this chapter to each other every morning so I was perplexed. “We read that to each other already,” I said. I was really tired but agreed to read it again. Then Kevin gets on his knees to pray while I was laying on the bed. He begins to pray for me and then for our relationship. I had my eyes closed (I was dozing off to be honest). In the middle of his prayer, he begins to ask God to bless our relationship then he says, “Lord, I love you. I love you for sending Karen into my life. So please be with me as I profess my love to her by asking her to be my wife.” I opened my eyes and there he was on his knees with the most beautiful engagement ring!” I was wide awake then. I said yes!
The following day, we took the day off to celebrate our engagement in Times Square. We had dinner, followed by a show and then a limo ride around the city. We ended the day at Kevin’s favorite restaurant, “Salem.” It was a day to remember.
Why We Decided To Get Married in Florida?
It appears as if we’re having a destination wedding but we’re getting married down in Florida because that’s where Karen is from. She was born and raised in Miami where she lived with her parents and 5 siblings. Karen moved to NYC to pursue her Master’s Degree at Columbia University. She graduated and decided to stay and work in NY. We’re getting married in FL because Karen’s family is down in FL… the perfect place to have a summer wedding!!
What do we do/ where do you work?
Kevin is the Health Chairman for the 100 Black Men of Long Island. He is also the founder & CEO of the Brown/Byrd Prostate Cancer Foundation. Kevin also teaches autistic children.
Karen is a teacher as well. She teaches at the elementary level in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. She’s been teaching there for 6 years.
What do we look forward to the most about marriage?
Marriage is much more than just two people enjoying each other’s companionship and partnership. We believe God called us together for a greater purpose and that purpose is to bring Him glory. We look forward to a lifelong covenant of love. We look forward to growing old together. We look forward to accomplishing together what we wouldn’t be able to accomplish apart. We are actually working on writing a children’s book together. Together, we are stronger and more effective than when we are apart.
This article was originally printed in the July 2013 issue of Parle Magazine (www.ParleMagazine.com).