Audrey May and Vickie Scarborough

Women of Achievement

for a woman whose sensitivity to women’s needs
led her to tremendous achievements for women:

Audrey May and Vickie Scarborough

Audrey May and Vickie Scarborough opened Memphis’ first feminist book store in September 1990 — but their vision has always been that it would be much more than a place to browse and buy books. May, the social worker, and Scarborough, the research chemist, named their enterprise “Meristem.” That literally means the cells of a plant that carry its memory and enable it to regenerate.

The name symbolizes the ability of women to “remember who we are and pass on information from generation to generation, to grow and flourish,” Audrey says. Vickie adds, “There’s a whole women’s culture out there that most mainstream, white, male society doesn’t know or put much value on. We want to make that available here.”

Meristem, in the redeveloping Cooper-Young neighborhood in Midtown, is a place where women and their friends can go for information, entertainment, socializing and networking. “We want to be inclusive, multi-cultural and to reach out to men, women, gays, lesbians, families, the ecology movement and others,” the owners explain. “That’s why our tag line is ‘Books and More for Women and Their Friends.’”

In addition to an inventory of books on women’s history, feminist theory, parenting, sex, body imaging — plus “non-sexist, non-racist, non-homophobic” children’s books and more — they offer an outlet for women’s crafts, jewelry and art.

In its two years, Meristem has become a place where women artists and authors display their talents. It is a gathering place for local women writers, for women planning National Women’s History Month events, for book discussions and music.

A one nominator said, “Audrey and Vickie have not only begun to achieve their vision, but are also nurturing the visions of other women.”