Syracuse University alumnus Riley Christian made “Bachelor Nation” history this week.

Riley proposed to Maurissa Gunn in the season finale of “Bachelor in Paradise” to become the first black couple to get engaged on any show of the television franchise “The Bachelor”. ET reports that the couple weren’t sure they were making history until they learned about it on social media afterwards and shared tweets from fans celebrating the milestone on Instagram.

“The Bachelor” and its many spinoffs have already been criticized for a lack of diversity among leads. Matt James became the first black “Bachelor” earlier this year after nearly two decades of staring white, and Tayshia Adams – whose season of “The Bachelorette” Riley appeared – was the first woman to be black and Latina.

Riley, 31, told ET that his engagement to Maurissa is an important “culture” moment, but he wants the focus to be on their romance, not the color of their skin.

“At the end of the day, it’s about us. This is our commitment, ”he said. “We went on the show to find love. We found it and got engaged.

Riley, a native of Detroit and a 2016 SU Law School graduate, is a New York-based attorney who became a fan favorite of “The Bachelorette” last year thanks to his huge biceps and his smile even bigger. He fell in love with Maurissa on his first night in “Paradise” and quickly said he was in love and wanted to have children with her.

“When I see you, I see Sunday morning,” he said in the “BiP” Season 7 finale on Tuesday.

“What’s difficult about what I’m looking for is that it’s not something you can always see. It’s the feeling of my heart beating fast. It’s the feeling of butterflies in my stomach. It’s the goosebumps feeling on my arms. And I know that feeling… it’s love, ”Riley said. “You see, Maurissa, I love you. And I love you since our very first date.

Then he knelt down and offered to her. She said yes, and they both gave each other one last rose.

Former Syracuse University student Riley Christian has offered Maurissa Gunn the season finale of “Bachelor in Paradise”. (ABC / Craig Sjodin)

Riley told ET that he knew he was going to ask the question after the Fantasy Suites, despite the show’s edit making it seem like he might have some doubts.

“That’s all I ever wanted, to have a fiancee, to start a family, and so on, so of course I wanted to take my time and think about it, but once I sat down it didn’t “really didn’t take it’s long. It was obvious and I couldn’t wait to get on the podium and propose to my lady,” he said.

Riley and Maurissa were one of three couples to get engaged on “Paradise” this season, along with Grocery Store Joe and Serena P., and Kenny and Mari. The three couples are still together, according to ET.

Riley called his mother and grandmother after the recording was over, but let the rest of his family find out as the episode aired. Maurissa, who also broke the news early to her mother, told ET that she plans to move from Atlanta to New York City to be with Riley. They also plan to meet with their respective families before starting the wedding planning process.

And they’re both excited to soon be starting a family with a “whole basketball team” of kids.

“I am really looking forward to being able to create our own life, our own start in the family, our own traditions,” she told ET.

“Bachelor in Paradise” episodes are available on the ABC app / website and on Hulu. The next season of “The Bachelorette,” starring Michelle Young, premieres October 19 on ABC.

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