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ILLUMINATION 2023-24: Marissa Robb

Illumination Annual Story and Public History Project

Marissa Robb

Photo credit: Marcus Holloway

While the Black population of Springfield is extremely small, less than 1%, there are some life experiences that are statistically uniquely high. One such experience is that of adopted Black children in the area. Marissa’s story is one that adds a layer of complexity to our curation. Adopted by a white family, she talks about how she navigated finding her place as a Black woman without much community or cultural exposure. She is also unique in that she is a business owner, and with so few Black businesses within the city, we were happy to add her voice to our story collection. 

"I started a business called Black Wolf Homestead, and I started selling jam and making jam… I knew that Cottage Kitchen Law. You could make your own, like, shelf stable jams and preserves and other things... But I was like, there's no way I can do bread in one oven. There's no way I can make, you know, muffins enough to sell in one… Like, you know, oven. So I was like, What can I do that's a bigger scale and that I can sell without having to have a commercial kitchen, right? So I was like, making jams and jellies!"

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“It’s interesting like - 20, 14, 16 (years old) I started watching people on YouTube about homesteading and I was like, one day, one day I'm going to have my own, like just to like ten, 20 acres, right? Didn't think I'd be like managing a property of 120 acres, running an Airbnb and then doing my own business. And yeah, like my ultimate dream still, obviously… And whether that's on this property or one day my own is, I'm in school for midwifery, nurse midwife. So I want to be able to have women come birth on my property because I think it's really important for Black women to have magical experiences with birth because we don't get that more often than not being a minority. Like Black women are three times more likely to die.”

“Marissa, so beautiful in soul and spirit – having cared for the dying, fed the living with the work of her own hands, and working toward assisting women in birthing the new generation inspired me.”

- Irene Rasheed