By Paquita Purnell, owner of Blessed Divine Creations

When I think about Black History Month and what it means to me, I get so excited because it is our chance to celebrate our history, achievements, and Black excellence.  Black History Month was started in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson when he founded the Study for Negro Life and History, now known as the Study for African American Life and History, with Minister Jesse E Moorland. The month of February was chosen to honor Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass whose birthdays respectively are in the second week of the month, for their work to help free enslaved Blacks.

My family and I moved to Milton in September of 2020. We love our small town. We had no idea that Milton had such a rich and deep connection with Black history until we took a tour of the Milton House Museum. We learned about the Goodrich Family and their involvement in the Underground Railroad. The Milton House Museum is one of my favorite places to visit in Milton. Touring the house and walking through the tunnel to the safe room that was used to carry enslaved Blacks to freedom is an experience I will never forget.

Paquita Purnell, owner of Blessed Divine Creations

Our contributions to history in America are so vast and remarkable. We have authors like Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Zora Neale Hurston who wrote about the Black experience in America and left us with literary masterpieces.  Inventors such as Madame C. J. Walker, George Washington Carver, Charles Drew, Thomas Jennings, Alexander Miles, and Alice H. Parker created inventions that we still use today, including hair care products, blood banks, dry cleaning, the elevator, and use of natural gas to heat our homes.

Katherine Johnson, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Garrett Morgan, and Dr. Patricia Bath, who are scientists and mathematicians, changed the course of space travel and modern medical technology and procedures. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Ruby Bridges, and Senator John Lewis are the activists that pioneered the Civil Rights Movement. This list goes on and on. It is important to let this generation know that this is the standard of excellence that we all come from. The bar of excellence has been set.  It is our duty to break beyond it and set a new bar of excellence for our community.

Ronnie and Martha Enis, owners of Ron Mar Tasty Popcorn located inside the Janesville Mall. [Photo by Full Spectrum Photography]

I’m the owner of Blessed Divine Creations, a retail gift shop located in Uptown Janesville mall. What’s unique is that we have 14 other locally-owned businesses within our store including Beauty by LMH, BHeard Clothing, Bling 360, Bling Thing Boutique, Cuse Clothing, Forever Raww, JDesigner Blingz, Monica’s Body, Monarch Ambition, Rasheid Atlas, Rock County Jumpstart, Snacks & Stuff Truck, Suga Baby’s Blingz and Thingz, and The Body Shop. We strive to be a unique, one-stop shopping experience for the community.

The best way that the community can support Black-owned businesses in the area is to share our social media posts about our businesses, stop in and check us out in our locations, attend events that we host, and support organizations like Rock County Jumpstart which provides training, tools, and resources Black entrepreneurs need to start, grow, and sustain successful businesses.

Black History Month is the opportunity to showcase our achievements and contributions to history worldwide. Black Excellence is the goal every day. Support Black owned local businesses.

Valencia Riley, owner of The Sophisticated Lady, a locally-made body butter and cosmetic company.

Explore more local Black-owned businesses

Tennisha Loggins, owner of Snacks and Stuff, selling candy at a local market outside of her food truck.
Read more about what’s going on in Janesville

Date Posted | January 26, 2022