Flagler’s Black Student Union brings fun-filled Melanin Monday Market to campus for Black History Month

Photo by Hannah Duffey

By Hannah Duffey

The owners of Two Broke College Students, Sydney Williams and Kayla Gilliam, were among many other black entrepreneurs from North Florida who had the chance to highlight their work at Flagler College’s Black Student Union’s (BSU) Melanin Monday Market.

Under-representation of black businesses is not due to the lack of talent or means, but because they are not given the same opportunities and exposure as their counterparts.

“I do come from a family of entrepreneurs, so this is a second generation thing and it’s really fun to pursue,” Williams said.

Gilliam and Williams were just two of the many voices that got to show the students and faculty of Flagler College that entrepreneurship in the black community is possible regardless of barriers that may be present.

The cold-pressed, all-natural soaps are one of the many products that Two Broke College Students sell. Photograph by Hannah Duffey.

“My mission is to get our name out there and compete with other businesses that get chances that we, being black woman entrepreneurs don’t usually get,” Gilliam said.

Katera Frazier, event coordinator for BSU and owner of Crochet with Passion, was the activist behind the market in hopes for small black-owned businesses to get recognition, especially in the St. Augustine area.

“Melanin Monday Market is important because we are a predominately white institution and we, as black folks, make up 4% of the campus population. So I think that it’s important to bring a black-owned business onto campus so that students and staff can support us every single month,” she said.

In the black community there has been a lack of proficient literacy since slavery as a result of anti-literacy laws, making it illegal for enslaved people to learn to read or write. Although it is 2023, there are still many young black students who are not provided with the same resources and tools that their peers are, and they go into grade school a step back from the jump.

In reading literacy alone, 85% of black students lack proficiency, according to the Nation’s Report Card.

Author Danielle Gallman was aware of some of the lack of exposure and diversity that authors portray in children’s writing. Her son was one of the people affected by the lack of exposure and she made it her mission to change that.

Her goal was to provide him with a platform to read and have access to books, especially with characters that resembled him.

“I like Me” is the first book of the ongoing four-book series that author Danielle Gallman is working on. Photograph by Hannah Duffey.

“I wanted to give him something to encourage him to love all the things that make him him, and all the potential that he has,” she said.

He took the books to classmates that were not black and they loved the book so much that Gallman decided to turn it into an ongoing series.

“I want other kids to have the same kind of exposure. I want them to learn how to love themselves and each other. How to explore everything in the world — the history, sci-fi, whatever they want; books and the power of their minds.”

Gallman’s work goes beyond physical books, and she encourages young children to get out into nature, explore the world and understand how the ecological community works.

“I am also working on a third and fourth book because I take my son to the garden with me and I want him to learn how to get his hands in the dirt and where his food comes from and how nature works so he learns to take care of it,” she said.

Exploring the world and environment was a common theme among vendors present on the West Lawn on Monday.

Ciarra, owner of Krayige Faye, diligently works to ensure all her products nourish not only the customer, but are also friendly to the environment.

The wood wicks, soy wax and clean fragrances are all a part of the mission.

“We are here, and we should always have a platform to be able to sell and give you all a great product that’s always out there and nourishing for you, your body and your environment,” she said.

Melanin Monday Market allows small black businesses to put their name on the map and allows others to explore a different culture and some of the things that make them unique.

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