It may seem like a small gesture, but local business owner Sherica Bailey is doing her part to pay tribute to giants of history.
In a nod to Black History Month and leaders in the African American community, Bailey has decorated a holiday tree inside her salon to reflect some of the Black Americans that shaped the nation’s history.
Bailey is the owner of Wraps Styling Salon, a hair salon off Second Avenue, and this past Christmas when she decorated the salon’s tree she decided she’d keep it up all year but change its decorations to reflect various holidays.
“I liked the tree so much and the fact that I decorated it to look like a lady with a dress on, that I wanted to change out the decorations so she could stay there all year round,” Bailey said. “And as Black History Month got closer I knew I wanted to do something to honor African Americans who have made an impact on our country’s history.”
Her first idea for the tree was a nod to Vice President Kamala Harris. So she nicknamed the tree Madam Vice President, gave her some pearls for elegance and some chucks tennis shoes for fun. And then considered what she would do for the “dress.”
“I started thinking about the people who came before (Harris) on whose shoulders she stood,” Bailey said. “I thought about the people without whom there would not be a Black vice president. People like MLK and Rosa Parks and all our Black leaders.”
So she searched the internet and found beautiful cards that bore photos of legendary African Americans and that’s what she used to decorate the tree.
The body of the tree is now covered in images of notable Black Americans such as King, Parks, track star Jesse Owens, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, musician Louis Armstrong, and other historic Black Americans in a variety of fields.
Not only do the cards bear images of impactful Black Americans but the reverse of the cards offer biographical information about each one, allowing visitors to the salon to learn about the impact each had on history.
“The cards tell about what those people have done for our country and it even asks questions about them,” Bailey said. “Even if you know who that person is, you might not know how much of a difference they made so it’s great for everyone to see that and learn a little.”
But there were more cards than could fit on the tree, so Bailey extended her tribute to a nearby table where the rest of cards are available for the public to peruse.
“And then I thought let’s do something that’s relevant to what I do and my industry,” Bailey said.
So along with the remaining cards, a table in the center of the salon bears products that were historically geared specifically to African American hair.
They are reminders to Bailey that even in her specific industry, there is a rich history and African American ties to the past.
“There’s Royal Crown and pressing oil,” she said. “My granddaddy used that stuff a lot. There’s TCB relaxer, Blue Magic pressing oil and Jeris hair tonic. Men used to use that in their hair because they would put relaxers and straighteners in. Long before the Afro was in style, men wanted to have slick smooth hair and some of these products would help with that.”
In her own unique way, Bailey is paying tribute to those Americans whose work and lives made an impact on the country’s history and culture.
“It’s just sort of a little window into how far we’ve come,” she said. “The cards remind people of major events in our past and how many of the people who shaped the country were African American.
“For me to be a black business owner, I know that I am also standing on the shoulders of these people who had the courage and the strength to call for change,” she said. “I look at the people on the cards and I think never in their wildest dreams could some of them like Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman have imagined the progress we made and the lives we’re living now. I am grateful to each of them and this is my little way of showing that.”