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A prayerful, joyful story of Black love

“You got me on my knee here, what’s up?” Brian prompted. Jasmine said yes then took off running up and down the stairs and all around the house with joy.

Just days before their June 19th - Juneteenth - wedding, the United States made Juneteenth a federal holiday. "To me, it's jubilee day," said Brian. "And for us, it's now also a celebration of love, specifically Black love."
Just days before their June 19th - Juneteenth - wedding, the United States made Juneteenth a federal holiday. "To me, it's jubilee day," said Brian. "And for us, it's now also a celebration of love, specifically Black love."Read moreJamaal McKenzie

Jasmine Evans & Brian Harvey

Juneteenth of 2021 in Devon, Pa.

Every day in detailed prayers, Brian asked God to help him find his perfect woman.

Every week in his Penn State MBA class, he shared the same list of must-have characteristics with his friend Dave: smoking hot, educated, career-oriented, interested in travel and fun, and not interested in drama. He was reciting it again when the suddenly inspired Dave exclaimed, “I got the perfect woman for you, bro!”

Dave asked his then-girlfriend, now-wife Kristina to send a photo of her friend Jasmine, who already held a master’s of education in instructional technology degree and worked in IT. Dave showed Brian his phone.

“Dayymmm!!!” said Brian.

Jasmine was at a small get-together when Kristina and Dave said they wanted to introduce her to someone. They told her a little about Brian and showed her a Vegas pic he hoped would land him in her league.

He was wearing a vest, jeans, and nice shoes, and was holding a bottle of champagne. “Ohhh! He is really cute!” said Jasmine.

Word of her approval went out to Brian, and word that he would call her on Monday came back to Jasmine. But Brian did not call on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, either.

Jasmine was watching American Horror Story when her phone rang Thursday night.

“Brian Harvey here,” he announced, cringing over his awkwardness.

Jasmine hardly noticed. “Why did you not call me on Monday?” she wanted to know.

Brian could not say he had been trying to out-plan his phone nerves, so he said something about being busy at work and school.

Then it didn’t matter. They talked easily for more than an hour and planned a date at McKenzie Brew House, about halfway between her place in Phoenixville and his in Philly.

While leaving the office, Jasmine texted a photo of herself in her black-and-gray leopard-print BCBG blazer to Kristina, who assured her she looked great.

Once she and Brian were together in person, the conversation really flowed.

Jasmine told him that she and her family had moved from the Virginia shore to East Stroudsburg, Pa., when she was in 10th grade. She had earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Stroudsburg University, and moved to Phoenixville in 2013 to accept her first post-master’s job.

Brian told her he lived in West Oak Lane, the neighborhood where he grew up, but had also lived in Rome and in Washington.

They laughed a lot. “She kept spilling her drink the entire night,” Brian teased.

“I didn’t just knock it over!” Jasmine clarified, laughing. “They filled my pineapple martini all the way to the top of the glass, and I had nervous jitters so it would slosh out a little.”

Things also got deep. They talked about their families and their faith. While both saved this revelation for a later conversation, Jasmine, too, had asked God’s help in finding the right man — and also had a list of must-have traits that included a great mind, good looks, and experience in traveling with a willingness to see the world together.

Brian suspected that night that his prayers had been answered. Jasmine did too; she thought it would have taken God a little more time. “I thought, ‘All right, I can’t pass this up because I’m not ready.’ ”

The summer after they started dating, just as Brian was graduating, “there was a little turbulence,” said Jasmine. “It was nothing crazy, but we are so connected that we just knew we needed a break.”

Neither thought the break would be permanent, but there was not so much as a Happy Birthday text for six months. Then, Brian couldn’t stop thinking about Jasmine. “I didn’t want to be without her — I was trying to think all week about how to reconnect.”

Jasmine and her sister, Christine, were at her place. They had just gotten her niece to sleep and were having wine and making dinner when Jasmine’s phone pinged with a text. She read it and burst into tears.

“It’s free ice cream day at Dairy Queen,” Brian had typed. “Did you get your ice cream?” Clearly, Brian wanted to talk to her, Christine said.

“I wasn’t ready, but then I talked to him, anyway,” said Jasmine. They’ve been together ever since.

Jasmine, now 34, is an IT project manager and Brian, now 38, works in HR strategy and leadership development.

They moved to West Chester in 2018, then later, in the middle of a stressful real estate hunt, began praying together for a home with three bathrooms, a big kitchen, an open layout, and proximity to Brian’s parents. They found it in Mount Airy in 2019.

Brian planned to propose at the Positano Coast restaurant, but as he was getting ready for the biggest date of his life, he realized their home was the perfect place — “the backdrop of our future.”

He knelt. She cried.

“You got me on my knee here, what’s up?” Brian prompted. Jasmine said yes then took off running up and down the stairs and all around the house with joy. “She was like an Olympic track star,” said Brian. She called friends and family while he made himself an old-fashioned.

The couple married on Juneteenth — June 19th — of this year then celebrated with 56 guests at Terrain Gardens at Devon Yard.

Juneteenth recognizes and celebrates the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced to enslaved people there that they were free — more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Two days before the wedding, the United States made Juneteenth a national holiday.

“To me, it’s jubilee day,” said Brian. “And for us, it’s now also a celebration of love, specifically Black love.”

Black marriage was not always recognized in the eyes of the law, Jasmine noted, and the fight for true equality and social justice continues, intensified after the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

Long before their marriages were legally recognized, Black couples jumped the broom together to symbolize their commitment. Brian and Jasmine jumped the broom to honor a tradition established by the original African Americans. “We wanted to bring awareness to these facts while we marked our own special occasion,” Brian said.

“Black love is a revolutionary act,” said Jasmine, and sometimes, joy is defiance.

Officiant Naila Francis of Journeys of the Heart led a ceremony that reflected on all of that while also sharing the couple’s story.

Brian’s father and hero, James, who goes by “Bobo,” joyously welcomed Jasmine into the family. (He and Brian’s mother, Elaine, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary later this week.)

Brian, who normally does not dance, could not stop dancing for joy. “I didn’t know he could move like that!” said Jasmine.

The two continued celebrating with an extended honeymoon in Maui.