By Carole Keily, with additional reporting by HiveMind Strategies LLC
The Culture Cup, a new café opening in the Madison Crescent Marketplace (8002 Crescent Park Drive, Gainesville), will be hosting a special pre-opening event on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 10:00 a.m.
The Culture Cup is more than a coffee shop—it is a community meeting space that pays homage to the legacy and history of Prince William County’s African American communities. During the event, store owner Nikki Brown will be joined by community leaders and business owners to unveil a dedication wall commemorating the historical Black community “The Settlement,” which dates back to the Reconstruction period after the American Civil War. Descendants of “The Settlement’s” first residents will attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and give their remarks.
The Culture Cup will recognize historical moments and the shared history of Prince William County, the nation, and the intersections of art, culture, and food. The menu will feature drinks inspired by Black pioneers, like literary figure Toni Morrison. The Maple Morrison drink, for example, is a cinnamon and maple-infused latte that memorializes the late author’s “Song of Solomon” novel where the maple tree symbolizes optimism, goodness, and hope.
“Bringing awareness to our collective history is an important way to reimagine ourselves as leaders, advocates, and as a true community,” said Brown. “This is why The Culture Cup is dedicated to preserving and honoring local, and national African American history, art, and culture. It is our mission to inspire, connect, and uplift the community through this cultural exchange.”
Prince William Living talked with owner Nikki Brown about her inspiration for starting the Culture Cup and its unique focus on honoring and preserving local and national African American history and culture.
Brown’s mother was a U.S. history teacher, and she heard stories of the civil rights movement from her father, who participated in the sit-ins of the 1960s. “I also grew up performing in one of the first African American theaters in the nation, The Arena Playhouse. The culture and history has always inspired and moved me. I never how, but I always knew my what, and that is I would be a preservist of The Culture,” said Brown
When Brown first moved to Northern Virginia, she worked for ten years with the Fairfax County government in community outreach. She learned there that that there was so much deeply rooted African American history in NOVA. “I also learned, unfortunately, that this history was not common knowledge,” said Brown. “This sparked an obsession with me researching and sharing local African American history. I would create presentations for friends, co-workers, supervisors, and anyone that would listen. After receiving such a good response, I knew I had to create a space where the legacies and contributions of African American culture could be honored and celebrated. But, more importantly, I knew I needed to create a space for the community to be inspired, and to grow more meaningful and deeper connections.”
Brown said that her vision for the Culture Cup “is to be an anchor in the community, and that space where everyone feels welcomed. We plan on partnering with other local organizations and businesses in the community to host activities such as “The Culture Cup Book Club”, “Community Conversations”, social meet and greets, and much more.”
“Expect to be pleasantly welcomed, and to leave feeling like you are a part of a growing community!” Brown said.
Carole Keily is Prince William Living‘s online editor.