When Martha Tucker got married in 1952 in Alabama Black women were not allowed in bridal shops, so she had to make do with a navy blue dress.
Now, almost 70 years later, the 94-year-old grandmother got to try on a wedding dress for the first time and her response has gone viral.
The injustice of being denied a simple right so many of us take for granted prompted Martha to spend the next five decades of her life working as a poll worker — doing everything she can to push forward Black voting rights.
As well as her tireless work to secure voting rights in Alabama she raised four children with her husband Lehman Tucker Sr. and went on to have 11 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and one great, great grandchild.
Her husband died in 1975 and although she had no desire to remarry she never gave up on her dream to wear a wedding dress.
So when she was watching her favorite movie Coming to America with her granddaughter Angela Strozier she made a comment that would spark a viral video.
While watching the wedding scene in the 1988 comedy starring Eddie Murphy she told her granddaughter that she’d always wanted to try on a wedding dress but never got the chance.
When Martha got married the family she worked for provided her with a navy blue “mermaid dress,” known then as a “Carmen Jones dress,” as per AL.com.
Her granddaughter was so shocked at what she heard that she booked an appointment at a bridal shop and even organized a makeover for her.
When they showed up at the bridal shop and explained why they were there the staff made a huge fuss of Martha ensuring she had the best experience possible.
“When she walked out of the room and saw herself in the mirror, she said, ‘Oh, look at me,’’’ her granddaughter Angela recalled. “One of the other brides that was in there started crying.”
Martha said as soon as she put the dress on she felt like she was getting married.
“I didn’t want to take it off, but I knew I had to. I looked good in it though,” she said.
“I wondered what I would look like walking down the aisle. It was like ‘Coming to America.’ It was exciting to me.”
When Martha retired as a chief poll worker in November 2020 after working elections for 57 years, Birmingham City Council, along with Mayor Randall Woodfin, celebrated her decades of service.
“Being fantastic is just an understatement of who she is,’’ her granddaughter Angela told AL.com.
“She’s always willing to entertain us in our shenanigans,’’ she said. “So, whenever she expresses that she wants to do something, wants to go somewhere, wants to experience something, we try to our best to make it happen.
“She’s our grandmother, and to have a grandmother so full of life at 94 is a blessing.”
I’m so glad Martha’s dream was finally realized, and a huge fuss was made over this incredible woman.She looks beautiful.
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