Every woman dream of having a fairytale wedding just like how Martha Tucker wanted it. Her dream of having a white wedding, wearing a stunning white wedding dress never really turned out to be true when she got married in 1952. She was barred to enter the wedding dress boutique because of one reason; her race.
Belonging to the Black community in Birmingham, Alabama, Martha was forbidden from entering the store and trying her dream wedding dress: an embroidered white gown with a lace overlay and long sleeves. It was simple yet very elegant.
However, she wasn’t ready to buy the dress “wasn’t even thinking about buying a wedding dress because she knew she couldn’t go in the store.”
In the entire city, there are no Black-owned bridal stores. Martha explains that White-owned stores don’t allow people from the Black community to enter their stores. “If you bought anything you had to go in the basement and get used stuff,” Tucker told Hiptoro.
As per the Jim Crow laws, Black people were prohibited from menial tasks such as riding in the same vehicle as White people do or sitting and eating in a restaurant that serves the White. They were even restricted to playing games with the Whites.
This is 94-year-old Martha Mae Ophelia Moon Tucker's first wedding dress. She married in 1952, a time when Black women weren’t allowed in bridal shops. It was her dream to wear one, so her granddaughters got her a dress fitting! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/PpgzGwCTqa
— Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) July 13, 2021
Tucker married her husband in a small and simple ceremony in their pastor’s living room. The sad part is, that she did not wear a wedding dress, and for decades it has been a delicate topic that she feels hurt about: “I’ve always have been sad about it because I felt like I should have been able to wear it if I wanted to.”
However, her family made her dream come true, and Martha finally got the opportunity to wear her dream wedding dress. Her family took the effort to surprise her. They took her to a bridal store for a long-overdue dree fitting. To be precise it is nearly seventy years from her wedding day.
Angela Strozier, her granddaughter came up with the idea to surprise her Granny. When they were watching the 1988 classic film, “Coming to America.” While watching the wedding scene from the movie, Tucker turned to her granddaughter and said: “I’ve always wanted to wear a wedding dress. I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, ever since I got married.”
Strozier had heard the story of how her grandmother was refused in a bridal store. But the fact that she had never tried a wedding dress all her life because of her race, made her realise that it’s time to change things for the better.
“It was a terrible reason why she couldn’t,” Strozier said. “It shocked me and motivated me to get i
Soon after, Angela booked an appointment at a bridal store and invited some family members to surprise her grandmother.
“I just wanted to do this for her,” Strozier said. “I wanted her to understand that a dream deferred didn’t have to be a dream denied.”
Talking about her grandmother, Strozier described her grandmother as “a giver,” who entirely dedicated her life advocating for people and fighting for voting rights. Martha became a poll worker in 1963, which was a duty she proudly upheld. After the 2020 election, she decided that it would be her final voting season as she was now in her nineties.
“She is our hero,” Strozier said. “Anything she expresses that she wants to do, we try to make it happen for her.”
Shortly into the appointment, Tucker pointed towards a particular gown on a mannequin and enthusiastically declared: “That dress has my name on it.” When she walked out from the dressing room — wearing a V-neck sparkling sequin lace gown with sheer sleeves and a crystal-beaded waistband — “my dream had come true,” Tucker said.
“She came out, and the tears began,” Strozier recalled. “I thought she looked like a doll. She was smiling so big, and it made my heart smile. It was a priceless experience.”
Still, she decided it was better late than never. “I always said before I left this world that I was going to get in a wedding dress,” Tucker said. “And I’m glad I did.”
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