Deneta and Bryan

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Deneta first met her husband, Bryan, when they were students at Harvard in 1989, but their friendship didn't blossom into romance until a decade later.

"I honestly thought, 'Oh, he's a nice guy,'" she says. "But he was a freshman and…"

"And white," Bryan says.

"Exactly," she says. "I said I wasn't going to date outside my race. So we were friends. I didn't want to get to a place like Harvard and feel like I'd forgotten where I had come from."

After graduation, Deneta and Bryan went their separate ways. He moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and became a civil rights lawyer. Deneta became a doctor in Memphis, Tennessee.

Ten years later, Deneta decided it was time to see Montgomery. She e-mailed her old friend out of the blue. "I'd never been to Montgomery," she says. "I wanted to come see all the civil rights tours and thought, 'I'm just going to go to Montgomery and visit my old friend.'"