The BeYOUtiful Boutiques sits in the heart of Downtown Montgomery, Alabama. From the store window, I can look right out and see the Court Square Fountain. Over 150 years ago, this artesian well was the hub of Montgomery’s horrific slave market. As Juneteenth quickly approaches, my heart hurts as I imagine my ancestors– Black men, Black women, Black children– shackled and put up for sale. No rights, no freedom. Only heartbreak, pain, and hopelessness.
But, oh if those ancestors could see us now!
If they could see us now… they would see the respect and honor we have for them. A people who were once not even seen as humans but merely property are now victors. I can only imagine the mixture of shock, celebration, and disbelief the remaining slaves in Texas must have felt when they were informed of their freedom on June 19, 1865. A life they had dreamed of was now hope of a new future.
If they could see us now… they would see an official holiday, Juneteenth, dedicated to celebrating the freedom they longed for. The first Juneteenth Jubilee was held by Texas freedmen in 1866 as a way to celebrate their emancipation from slavery. As of 2021, Juneteenth is a federal holiday celebrated nationwide. Our nation, which once thrived on the enslavement of Black people, now celebrates the hope of our future together and recognizes the sins of our past.
If they could see us now… they would see the glorious statues, monuments, and murals dedicated to those that continued the fight for equal rights. Heroes and heroines of the Civil Rights Movement. Just across from Downtown Montgomery’s Court Square Fountain in December 1955, Rosa Parks famously stood her ground and sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Now, an impactful statue stands on the corner in her honor.
If they could see us now… they would see Black-owned businesses, Black entrepreneurs, and Black politicians leading the way. They would see African-American men and women making our own choices, making our own futures, and making history. If there was ever a dream come to life, this is it my friends.
If they could see us now… they would see females being empowered and made to feel beautiful right here at The BeYOUtiful Boutiques across from where Black women were once stripped of their identities and sold naked as slaves. Rather than let the history of this space haunt us, we choose to turn the tables and make changes that start on the inside.
If they could see us now… they would see that, like so many other African-American businesses, The BeYOUtiful Boutiques rejects the notion that any person is less than another. This space is inclusive and welcoming to anyone and everyone.
If they could see us now… they would be elated to see that no matter your walk of life, when you walk into The BeYOUtiful Boutiques you are seen as equal. We may not be the same, but we are equal. I will always do my very best to ensure that when you leave my boutique, you will walk out feeling stronger! You will walk out stronger because you’ll feel encouraged, uplifted, and celebrated.
If they could see us now… they would see that their suffering has not been forgotten or taken for granted. Our hearts still break for the pain that they endured, but we will only use that heartbreak to become better and never bitter.
If they could see us now…. they would see that our world is still not perfect nor will it ever be. They would see us cheering each other on and working so hard for a better tomorrow.
If they could see us now…
This article was originally published at beyoutifulonwheels.com.