It all started with a dream. On January 1, 2003, poet Sharaledon Douglas Brave awoke into the new year with a charge to manifest into reality, the dream he had the night before. He immediately got up to pen the piece, “Saving My Children” which would later be retitled “HBCU Cafe”.
The dream itself was most likely initiated as a response to his search to help or support a local historically-black college that was struggling financially and its demise and closure imminent.
It would be years before the poem, HBCU Cafe would become the logo and the brand that you know it to be today. Along its journey, it was published in Sharaledon’s first book of poetry entitled, What Will I Tell My Children in 2006.
The following year, January 2007, Sharaledon re-enrolled in his beloved South Carolina State University, attending full-time, while living on campus. By this time, he was one month short of turning thirty-nine years old. He had packed up, left his job as a full-time, middle-school substitute teacher in Columbia, S.C. to complete the degree he had left behind in 1988.
Upon graduating in May 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, Sharaledon immediately moved to the Washington, D.C. area expecting to find employment knowing that the country was in the middle of the 2008 recession. While working for a privately-held grocery chain, he continued to write and produce. He would later return to education. While in this position, he was encouraged by co-workers to return to the Atlanta area to pursue his art and passion full-time, which he did in 2019.
In 2017, Sharaledon created a t-shirt displaying the HBCU Cafe logo with a quote from his book. He used it as a fundraiser to support the Historically Black Colleges & Universities of those who purchased the t-shirt. Many of those who made purchases encouraged him to expand the line, which he would later do.
And today, there is a very good chance that you have one or many of the wares in your own collection. HBCU Cafe continues to develop and unfold. Sharaledon often states in his weekly live Wednesday Wisdom Poetry broadcast, “I’m working on a project.” The star product of HBCU Cafe is very much in sight. It is a magnificent culmination to the dream, but not to reality. The reality of it will long outlive the dream and the dreamer. For is that not what real dreams are in essence? They are visions inviting us to have the courage to follow them. In and through it all, we are finally made aware that we are building something bigger than ourselves. And that is what dreams are made of.