Cayuga County Launches Website Featuring Black-Owned Businesses

Resilience and love, two characteristics that define abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s legacy. February is Black History Month, but what about the future? Cayuga County, where Tubman’s legacy endures, recently launched a “Discover Black-Owned Businesses” website to help them grow.

“Black excellence means that we know who were are, we define what we want, we stand on our square, we’re unapologetic about what we can have and we will have what we say we can have,” said entrepreneur Melody Smith Johnson.

While Tubman is known for her role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and spy in the Civil War, she was also a successful business woman. As an entrepreneur, Johnson knows she’s here today thanks, in part, to the people who came before her. 

“I’m here because men and women who look like me survived the middle passage,” she said. “I’m here because my ancestors didn’t give in. I’m here because Harriet Tubman took dozens of trips back and forth and risked her life.”

What You Need To Know

  •  The “Discover Black-Owned Businesses” website was launched this week
  •  Melody Smith Johnson is an entrepreneur who runs two businesses in Auburn
  • Currently, 22 Black-owned businesses are listed on the site

Johnson is the founder of two businesses, Melody’s and Divine Coverings. 

“Melody’s is a co-working space. It’s the first co-working space to be founded by a Black woman in Auburn and Cayuga County,” Johnson said with a smile. “Divine Coverings is an online retail business that focuses on, again, women products.”

She hopes to uplift and inspire the women around her. 

“I’m not good until we’re all good,” she said. 

That mindset led to her being part of the Cayuga County tourism board, helping develop the “Discover Black Owned Businesses” website that released this week. 

“Black-owned businesses are here to stay. We’re doing well, we’re thriving,” said Johnson. “So the process was to connect, find out where we were, what we were doing and allow us to tell the story in a way that would be attractive.” 

The website will shine a light on every business. 

“Folk who come to the Finger Lakes region will get to see those individuals businesses and be exposed in the ways that they haven’t been exposed before,” she said. 

And pave the way for future business owners. 

“Children need to know that they have a right, it is their birthright, to not just exist and not just survive, but to thrive,” Johnson said. “I want to see us explode, I want to see us franchise, I want to see the proverbial Black Wall Street in Auburn. And it’s important to be categorized as a Black-owned business, because we’re dope.”

You can view the website at here. 

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