Alabama Cafe Patrons Learn Black History By Ordering

OPELIKA, Alabama (AP) – Catrice Hixon has named her new coffee Opelika Melanin Café, and she wants people to understand what it means.

“Melanin is everyone’s skin pigmentation,” she said. “The difference with that is the amount of melanin. It’s something that makes us all the same but different at the same time.

“I want to celebrate the melanin that is in all of us.”

The cafe is located at 1467 Fox Run Parkway and is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Its purpose, according to Hixon, is to bring peace to the community.


“If we get to know each other, we can coexist with each other,” she said.

Hixon’s husband Jakyra Hixon may not be a heavy coffee drinker, but he wanted to support Catrice every step of the way, so he went from a Hyundai engineer to a co-owner of a café and a full-time barista. .

Hixon’s sister Crystal Slaughter has joined the couple as the cafe’s pastry chef and serves brownies, cream cheese danishes, cookies and red velvet cupcakes.

Instead of carrying the usual labels like the regular caramel macchiato, each drink has a name associated with lesser-known black contributors and benchmarks.

“We learned black history in school, but we only got civil rights, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks,” she said. “I wanted to introduce people we don’t really know, people like inventors, scientists and doctors. “

The cafe even has local Opelika history on its menu.

The coconut and vanilla flavored “Check-Up” features Dr. John W. Darden, Opelika’s first black doctor. His office became a local meeting place for the community, and he treated patients throughout Lee County as well as inmates at Lee County Jail.

Hixon recently decided coffee wasn’t enough and also added smoothies to the menu.

For example, the green smoothie known as “Kowaliga” represents a whole community. At the bottom of Lake Martin is Kowaliga, Alabama, a town that had the very first black-owned railroad. It was inundated when construction of the Martin Dam was completed and Lake Martin was formed.

“I just want to put all of these people first so we know who they are and what they have contributed to this country,” Hixon said. “It will inspire us to do things because representation matters. If we don’t see people who look like us doing different things, we’re not really inspired.

The Hixons also want the Melanin Café to be a safe space where everyone can meet.

“I just want this place to be welcoming and relaxing. I want people to come and experience the vibes and the atmosphere, ”she said. “You don’t even have to order anything; just enter. All I want to be is a simple community with a sense of family.

Hixon wants to organize book signings and poetry evenings. For now, nothing is set in stone, but future events are in the works.

In addition to owning a cafe, Hixon is currently a PhD candidate in Biology at Auburn University. When Melanin Café closes for the day, she heads for campus.

Her college career pushed her to find a way to create a cafe that educates others.

“Instead of sitting someone in a classroom and telling them about black history, I thought about doing it in a fun way,” she said.

When customers ask her about the meaning of a drink, she is able to give them the story behind the name. The result, she says, has been many positive conversations.

There is also a tab titled “Culture Corner” on the Melanin Café website, where visitors can find the history of each drink in the store.

“I just want this place to educate people, inspire people and bring everyone together,” Hixon said.

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