With strong, leading voices like Catrice Hixon donning on their creative hats, the black legacy will forever remain.
When Catrice Hixon decided to open a coffee shop in the Southern Alabama town of Opelika, it wasn’t just to satiate, to aims to educate, inspire and unite, three purposes she set her lens on.
“Melanin is the pigmentation in everybody’s skin,” 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’s within all of us.”
The coffee shop, located at 1467 Fox Run Parkway is most definitely a welcome development.
“If we learn about each other, we can coexist with each other,” she said.
Melanin Café’s offers sweet creamy coffee, smoothies and pastries and amazingly each of the 38 beverages on the menu is named after a prominent historical Black figure; “Big Bank,” named for businessman and investor Bernard S. Garrett; the “Sci-Fi,” paying homage to Octavia Butler; “The Resistance,” in honor of Geronimo Pratt, and many more.
“We learned about Black history in school, but we only got civil rights, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks,” she said. “I wanted to bring forward people we don’t really know about, people like inventors, scientists and doctors.” Hixon tells US News & World Report.
“I just want to bring all of those people to the forefront so we know who they are and what they contributed to this country. It’ll inspire us to do things because representation matters. If we’re not seeing people that look like us do different things, we’re not really inspired.”
Hixon also delves down memory lane to relive the past, one item on the menu is a green smoothie called Kowaliga, named after a no longer existing African-American community, Kowaliga, AL, home to the first Black-owned railroad, but got flooded in 1926 when the Martin Dam was built. It now lies at the bottom of Lake Martin.
The unity she hopes to bring to Opelika is built into the space and the staff. It’s easy for her to create a sense of family for guests because Melanin Café is fully family operated. Each day, Hixon works alongside her husband Jakyra and her sister Crystal Slaughter. Hixon says she wants the café to feel “inviting and relaxing;” to the extent that she doesn’t even care if visitors buy anything. You can even learn the meaning behind Melanin Cafe beverages without visiting the shop, by checking out the Culture Corner on the shop’s website.
“I just want this place to be inviting and relaxing. I want people to come check out the vibes and atmosphere,” she said. “You don’t even have to order anything; just come in. All I want to be is a simple community with a sense of family.”
There is also a tab titled “Culture Corner” on Melanin Café’s website, where visitors can find the backstory of every drink in the shop
Hixon wants to hold book signings and poetry nights but plans are still in the works.
Apart from owning a coffee shop, Hixon is currently a PhD student in biology at Auburn University.