How Herbalists Help Kept Black Communities Alive

emma dupree
Graciella Ye'Tsunami
November 10, 2023

Our ancestors possessed a deep understanding of plants and herbs used for medicine and skincare remedies. In Egypt honey mixed with milk was used as moisturizer. West African women relied on creamy shea butter and palm oil to keep their skin glistening. 

Enslaved Africans in the Caribbean championed  aloe for protecting their skin from the sun.

Food was limited on plantations. Enslaved Africans foraged for food. Escapees  relied heavily on herbalist knowledge while running towards freedom. 

Post-emancipation, Herbalists continued to be responsible for their community’s survival even as they went toe-to-toe with anti-Black laws that criminalized foraging.

Emma Dupree was known for her “garden-grown pharmacy.” In addition to growing and foraging food, Dupree made healing remedies that she freely distributed to all who needed them.

Throughout history anti-Blackness limited our access to quality food, medicine, and skincare remedies, and attempted to erase our ancestral herbalist knowledge. 

For every tincture they made, Black herbalists like Dupree preserved both ancestral knowledge and living community culture.

Black community is at the root of our liberation. For us to grow we must pour into each other. Tend to each other with love, kindness, and support. How will your actions today plant seeds for liberation tomorrow?