In celebration of Black History month, we asked one of our amazing Wellness Advisors, Rose May, to share her journey with us.  

As a full-time Insurance Agent, Rose finds time to live the Joiya mission and is building a team of Wellness Advisors while establishing a loyal, growing customer-base finding resolutions with Joiya’s products and wellness programs. Personally, Rose is loving Remedy CBD Soothing Balm, Flex+ Daily Joint & Mobility Support Capsules, and Joi Jellies Daily CBD Fruit Gummies.

There are certain times when by plan or accident, a person comes into your life.  We are so blessed and grateful that Rose is one of those people and even more, that she honored us with her time and shared her story so that we can better understand her personal journey.  In honor of her and those that have journeyed differently, we share with you Rose’s story – vulnerably and poignantly written by her. 

“I grew up in Montgomery and Tuskegee, Alabama during the inception of the Civil Rights Movement.  It was a frightening time—a time when I didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of my experiences.  I remember riding in the proverbial “back of the bus”—paying at the front, then going outside to board at the back door.  I recall having to get off the sidewalk onto the street in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, to let robed klansmen parade by.  Except for incidents like these, my childhood was pretty awesome.  There were plenty of positive influences.  I grew up in a household with two working parents and in a neighborhood of homeowners with lots of children to play with.  Then, the unthinkable happened– the Montgomery Bus Boycott!  Mrs. Rosa Parks, a prominent Montgomery resident, decided not to give up her seat on the bus to let a White person have it.  The rest is history.  She was arrested, and Black workers refused to ride the buses to work anymore. 

My family was in full support of the boycott.  The Black churches purchased station wagons (forerunner of the modern SUV for you youngsters) to transport people to and from work. My grandfather and aunt also personally purchased station wagons to support the bus boycott. This was an amazing period in my life, scary, but amazing.  At the tender age of 9, however, I had no idea how significant it would become.  The homes of boycott leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr. Ralph Abernathy were so close that when they were bombed, our house shook and the windows rattled! 

 When I was growing up Black in the 1950s, in Alabama our lives were separate, but not really so different from the lives of White families in some ways.  It was like living in a kind of parallel universe.  In both “worlds” some of the same events were taking place– teas, fancy dress balls, coming-out parties, debutante balls, bridge clubs, social clubs, sororities and fraternities, proms, and other social events. I didn’t realize it as a child, but as First Lady Michelle Obama reminds us, “We are more alike than we are different.”  Although I was sheltered and protected by my parents from the ugliness of racial segregation, I knew it was always there, lurking. I rarely came in contact with White people because our neighborhoods, businesses, and schools were so segregated. We did not enjoy access to most public facilities, but we lacked nothing.

Early on, the people who inspired me most were my family members.  They were generous, unselfish, and hard working.  My grandparents, who were entrepreneurs, owned a restaurant, a neighborhood store, and rental properties.  They were also staunch advocates of the Movement. My grandfather was arrested with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mrs. Rosa Parks during the bus boycott.   My mother’s sister was an educator, church clerk, and world traveler.  She had an independent spirit seldom seen among women at the time. As a child, I traveled with my aunt all over the United States, and when my daughter was 16, my aunt took her on a six-week European tour.

My parents were phenomenal. My mom enrolled herself in nursing school at the age of 12.  At the time, the minimum starting age was 14, but she was a trendsetter.  She went on to become the first Black public health nurse for the county of Montgomery (Alabama), a hospital surgical nurse, college professor, and founder of the College of Nursing at a major HBCU.  My father was one of the first Black mail carriers in Montgomery, AL, and he owned a catering business.  Many of his recipes were added to the menu of a prominent White country club where Black people were not welcomed as guests.  From my parents, three girls were born, and I always admired my older sister who was pretty, smart,  a very sharp dresser and quite sophisticated.  I remember when she earned her college degree and aspired to attend graduate school. At that time, the only colleges or universities offering advanced degrees were white—and segregated. Instead of allowing Black students to enroll, the state of Alabama provided scholarships for them to attend graduate schools out of state.  When I was 10 years old, my beloved big sister left for Michigan State University. Although she was able to pursue her dream, it was bittersweet.

In spite of the troubling times I have lived through, I am proud to have grown up Black and I cherish fond memories of my childhood, family, and life. This year, I have chosen to celebrate my own family during Black History Month.  We all struggled and endured the battle for justice and equality along with many others–some well-known and others less so.   I truly believe Black history is American history, and that Black history should be celebrated all year long.  Black History Month provides an opportunity for us to learn, embrace, and highlight the impact of African American achievements on the lives of everyone and should be celebrated every day of the year.” ~ Rose May

In the words of E.E. Cummings, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”  

Rose, we are so grateful for you and who you really are.