BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY
Special to the Birmingham Times
“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Barnett Wright email@example.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
STANLEY AND ULYESA ‘LISA’ BLACKMON Sr.
Married: June 23, 1990
Met: February 1986, at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. Stanley was a junior, and Lisa had come to visit the campus during Carter G. Woodson weekend [an African American Berea College alumnus, historian, author, journalist, lauded as the father of Black History] with a group of Birmingham area high school students who would potentially be entering as freshmen in the coming fall.
Lisa said she and Stanley met that weekend “…but we really didn’t talk until she came that August for school,” Stanley said. “A friend of mine and I helped move her in and her mom said ‘Y’all take care of my baby’, and we thought it was [Lisa’s] sister who was coming to college and not [Lisa],” he laughed.
“I have a baby sister and she was ‘already fine’, and I was a skinny mini,” Lisa said.
Stanley said he stayed behind and talked with [Lisa] and showed her around campus but “I wouldn’t date her because she was only 17 and I wasn’t going to jail,” Stanley laughed.
“I turned 18 on November 20th of that year,” Lisa said.
First date: December 1986, at Legion Field during Christmas break. Both were from Birmingham and home for the holidays, and Lisa had tickets to the Florida State football game [against a team they can’t recall], and Stanley had bought Lisa a bottle of Sand and Sable perfume for Christmas.
“We had ridden home together because the Birmingham crew would ride back and forth from Kentucky [where Berea College was located] together, and we had rented a van from the school in order to do that. And I knew I still had interest in him and [that game] was an opportunity for us to go out…,” Lisa said. “I really didn’t like football and I still don’t really care for it but because I liked him I decided to do that and sit through it and smile. I felt like he was the one when we first met. I knew since I was 18 that it was going to be alright,” she laughed, “when you know you just know.”
“By the time we went on our first date, we were good friends. I enjoyed being with her, we had fun,” said Stanley.
The turn: Christmas break 1986. During the group drive home. They left school single and returned as an item. “We began to spend a lot of time together over that break and it evolved into ‘I’m your girlfriend, you’re my boyfriend,” Lisa said.
The proposal: Christmas Day 1989, at Stanley’s Aunt Jackie’s house during the Christmas family gathering. Stanley said everyone was in the living room when he gave Lisa her Christmas gift.
“I [gifted her] some potholders and I put the ring inside the pot holders, and when she opened it she tried to pretend like the potholders were so nice,” Stanley laughed, “and I said, ‘put your hand in it girl’. She was confused, but she put her hand in it and found the ring. Then I got down on one knee and proposed. I said ‘Ulyesa Denice Finch, will you marry me?’ And she said ‘yes’.”
“I still got that potholder,” Lisa said. “I was thinking ‘Oh my God, what is?’ I was trying to hold it together because I was there with his folks, and I believe you have to show some appreciation for people when they’re trying to be nice. I was taught good manners and my mama’s home training kicked in so I was able to keep a smile on my face and say ‘thank you’, but when I found the ring I was happy. I heard the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the family. There was a lot of excitement inside, I was cheesing, but I held my composure and said ‘yes’.”
The wedding: At Viola Phillips Temple AOH [Apostolic Overcoming Holy] Church of God, in Smithfield, Ala., officiated by Stanley’s brother, the late Overseer Anthony Blackmon, who was an associate minister of that church at the time. Their colors were black and white, with pink accents.
Most memorable for the bride was when they serenaded one another. “I still smile about that to this day. The song was called ‘We’re Gonna Make It’ by Rev Timothy Wright and Myrna Summers,” Lisa said. “I was tickled because my husband doesn’t typically sing… and I remember being excited that I was getting ready to go on this journey with this guy and he’s smiling at me while singing I was thinking I love this guy, we made it through … there was a feeling of comfort because it was us. It was us against the world and we still say that about us to this day,” Lisa said.
Most memorable for the groom was reality setting in. “When I came out of the pastor’s office and headed for the altar, I thought ‘My life is over, no more going out!’. I’m just kidding, but I knew it was real then. And when I saw her walk down the aisle, I was excited and nervous,”
“He didn’t calm down until after he stopped crying,” Lisa added.
Their honeymoon was a road trip through Atlanta, GA, and Chattanooga, Tenn. “We looked at the mountains and ate at Michael’s in Atlanta and had them virgin Pina Coladas,” Stanley recalled.
“Chile, we went to Bible study on our honeymoon,” Lisa laughed.
Words of wisdom: “I got one phrase I tell all the young folks– ‘you don’t have to win to win’, if you let her win you’re the winner and have peace in the house,” Stanley said. “Don’t try to win every argument.”
“Always leave space for laughter and be there for [your spouse] as they pursue their goals and dreams. Make sure that you give support to your husband. If he says we’re going to the moon tomorrow, I’m going to ask ‘what’s the weather like so I know what to pack,’” Lisa said. “I’m always going to push what he’s doing and I’m going to be there for him [because I know] his first priority is us. He’s last on his list; he’s always going to prioritize the family.”
“My wife trusts me because she knows that I’m going to do what’s best for her and the family before I do anything else,” Stanley said.
Happily ever after: The Blackmons attend All Nations Church, in Fairfield, where they both serve in leadership positions. Stanley is on the executive board, and Lisa is the director of small groups, and assistant ministry head for the intercessors team. They have two sons, Stanley Jr., 27, and Terrance, 24.
Lisa, 55, is a Powderly native, by way of the Cooper Green Projects, a Wenonah High School grad, and attended Berea College [Berea, Kentucky] where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Black studies. She attended Birmingham School of Law, where she obtained her Juris Doctorate, and she and her husband own a law practice called Blackmon and Blackmon LLC, located in the Roebuck area.
Stanley, 57, is a Birmingham native from the Inglenook community and Ramsay High School grad. He attended Berea College [Berea, Kentucky] where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and works as the office manager at their practice Blackmon and Blackmon LLC, located in the Roebuck area.
The Blackmons also own Life Changers International Inc., a coaching and speaking organization focused on leaders which they run from their law practice.