I Guess That What They Say Is True: If You Want To Keep Something Away From Negroes, Put it in a BOOK!!!!!!! (PART I)

Although there are many things that I enjoy in life, I must tell you that there is no place on earth like an independently owned Black bookstore. It is there that as a child I learned to wonder for hours looking at books whose topics centered upon the African-American experience.

As a shy and somewhat introverted child, I not only sought, but also successfully found unending refugee in libraries and bookstores; college 4most laugh when they learn that not being allowed to go to the library or bookstore was the ultimate punishment that my mother could place upon my young inquisitive mind.

It was in either a Public Library or a Black bookstore that I met lifelong friends such as: James Baldwin, Edmond Dantes, Malcolm X, Jesse B. Simple, Alice Walker, Joanne Chesimard, Bigger Thomas, Grange Copeland, W.E.B. Du Bois, Tempest Landry, Huey P. Newton, and Langston Hughes.

There is nothing that I want more than for succeeding generations of African-Americans to have the same experience.

Unfortunately, if our community does not act quickly and decisively in regards to supporting Black Bookstores they will eventually disappear and never return.

I recently spoke with a Black Bookstore owner who related the following. “It is a shame that the most difficult thing to sell to our people is a book. Man, it’s easier to sell drugs than a book in the Black community. In many ways, I think that many of our people are allergic to books.

And don’t get me to talking about the so-called ‘conscious community’; they are by-and-large not purchasing books either. They are watching Youtube videos instead of supporting Black bookstores and gaining knowledge the only way that it can truly be gained, by reading. It just a damn shame that Black Bookstores are closing in droves.

Ask yourself this question. When was the last time that you actually went into an independently owned Black Bookstore and made a purchase? If you can not remember, well then you are a part of the problem.

It is time that we abandon our well-worn pattern of espousing one thing, like support Black owned businesses, and doing another, Collegespending everywhere except for an independently owned Black business. I am certain that you have heard the mantra that if we don’t support our own businesses that they will eventually fail, however, even that has proven insufficient to getting Black folk to spend green dollars at Black businesses.

It is out of desperation to reverse this Black tradition of not supporting our own that I share the following. Over the past few years, the following  independently owned Black Bookstores have closed their doors because of a lack of support from the community that they desperately attempted to serve.

This list was compiled by the African-American Literature Book Club. Please peruse this list for a Black Bookstore that used to be in your community.

  • A & B Distributors – Brooklyn, NY
  • African & Islamic Books Plus – Cleveland, OH
  • African American Books and Publishing – Baltimore, MD
  • African American Gift Gallery – Knoxville, TN
  • African American Heritage Book – West Palm Beach, FL
  • African Artisans – Baldwin, NY
  • African Book Store – Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • African Heritage Books & Gifts – San Francisco, CA
  • African House Institute of Learning – Jersey City, NJ
  • African Marketplace – Los Angeles, CA
  • Afro Books – Atlanta, GA
  • Afrocentric Book Store – Chicago, IL
  • Afrocentric Books & Cafe – Louis, MO
  • Alkebulan Books – Berkeley, CA
  • Amen-Ra’s Bookstore and Gallery – Tallahassee, FL
  • Arawak Books – Hyattsville, MD
  • Ascension Books – Columbia, MD
  • Asiatic the Soul of Black Folks – Toronto, ON
  • Atlantic Bookpost – Reston, VA
  • T.S. Unlimited Books – Detroit, MI
  • Baruti-Ba Books – Dayton, OH
  • Bishari Urban Books, Phoenix Crossing Shopping Center – , NC
  • Black Book Discounters – Houston, TX
  • Black By Popular Demand – Hyattsville, MD
  • Black Classics – Books & Gifts – Mobile, AL
  • Black Images Book Bazaar – Dallas, TX
  • Black Spring Books – Vallejo, CA
  • Black Swan Books & Coffee – Kohler, WI
  • Blacknificent Books & More – Raleigh, NC
  • Blackprint Heritage Gallery – New Haven, CT
  • Book House Cafe & Gifts – Benton Harbor, MI
  • Books In Color – North Highlands, CA
  • Books in the Black – Columbia, SC
  • Bright Lights Children’s Bookstore – Inglewood, CA
  • Brother’s Books – Seattle, WA
  • Carol’s Essentials Ethnic Gifts and Books – Seattle, WA
  • Celebrate – Peachtree City, GA
  • Crescent Office Store – East Orange, NJ
  • Cultural Bookstore  – Chicago, IL
  • Cultural Expression – Newport News, VA
  • D & J Book Distributors – Laurelton, NY
  • Da Book Joint – Chicago, IL
  • DARE Books & Educational Supplies – Brooklyn, NY
  • DeesBookNook Distributors – Richmond Hills, NY
  • Dorothea’s African-American Books and Gifts – Columbia, SC
  • Drum and Spear Books – Washington, DC
  • Dygnyti Books – Hamden, CT
  • Dynasty Bookstore, Eastland Mall – Charlotte, NC
  • EDEN Books – Hartford, CT
  • Education 2000+ Bookstore – Long Beach, CA
  • Education Central, Sunny Isle Shopping Plaza – Croix,
  • Ethnic Elegance – Jacksonville, FL
  • Exhale African American Books & Gifts – Sugar Land, TX
  • Faith To Faith Books  – Minneapolis, MN
  • Forewords Books & Gifts, Located in Originations Gallery – Ann Arbor, MI
  • Freedom Now Bookstore – Decatur, GA
  • Gene’s Books – King of Prussia, PA
  • Haneef’s Bookstore and Mosi Art Gallery – Wilmington, DE
  • Heritage Bookstore and More – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Heritage House – Charlotte, NC
  • Imagine This! Books Etc. – Memphis, TN
  • IronWood Corner – Pasadena, CA
  • Jamaicaway Books & Gifts – Boston, MA
  • Kana CDs & Books – Columbus, Ohio [Owner Cedric Reed closed the store in 2008 and continued Operation on-line until 2009]
  • Karibu Books – Hyattsville, MD, (6 Locations)
  • Know Thyself, Bookstore and Cultural Development Center – Philadelphia, PA
  • Kongo Square Gallery – Los Angeles, CA
  • LaCeter’s Book Service – Southfield, MI
  • Liberation Bookstore – New York, NY
  • Ligorius Bookstore Inc. – Philadelphia, PA
  • Living Room Book & Pastry – Greensboro, NC
  • Lodestar Books – Birmingham, AL
  • Love Christian Book Store – Orlando, FL
  • Mahogany Books – Detroit, MI
  • Mahogany Books & Gifts – Fairfield, AL
  • Matais Books Cards & Art – Long Beach, CA
  • Mind & Soul Bookstore, Inc. – Trenton, NJ
  • MochaReaders – Dayton, OH [Owner Rhonda Bogan thought long and hard about tough decision of closing store in 2011]
  • Montsho BookFairs, Etc., Inc. – Orlando, FL
  • Zion Kid’s Village, Little Angels Children’s Bookstore – Jonesboro, GA
  • Nefertiti’s Books and Gifts  – Jacksonville, FL
  • Nimde Books – Louisville, KY
  • Nu World of Books – Beaumont, TX
  • Off The Shelf African American Books – Columbia, SC
  • One Force Books – Richmond, VA
  • Our Black Heritage – New York, NY
  • Out of Africa, Windsor Park Mall – San Antonio, TX
  • Paperback Connection – Oklahoma City, OK
  • Paradise Book Store – Peoria, AZ
  • Peek-A-Boo Books II, Wheaton Mall – Wheaton, MD
  • People’s Books & Gifts – Springfield, OH
  • Phenix Information Center – San Bernardino, CA
  • PowerHouse Books – Hopkins, SC
  • Precious Memories Reading and Collectibles – Richmond, VA
  • Rainbow Books & Blooms – Yorktown Heights, NY
  • Reading Room Bookstore  – Chicago, IL
  • Roots & Wings: A Cultural Bookplace  – Montgomery, AL
  • Sacred Thoughts Bookstore – Jersey City, NJ
  • Sensational Minds – Savannah, GA
  • Serengeti Plains  – Montclair, NJ
  • Shades of Sienna – Oakland, CA
  • Sidewalk University – Memphis, TN
  • Soul Source Bookstore – Atlanta, GA
  • Special Occasions – Winston-Salem, NC
  • Stouffville Book Connection Inc – Stouffville, ON
  • TDIR Books – Columbia, SC
  • Tenaj Books & Gift Gallery – Fort Pierce, FL
  • The Black Bookworm – Fort Worth, TX
  • The Black Library – Boston, MA
  • The Book House Café, LGBT Books – Oakland, CA
  • The Book Lovers Lounge – Lauderdale Lakes, FL
  • The Cultural Connection Bookstore  – Milwaukee, WI
  • The Heritage Center – Vicksburg, MS
  • The Know Bookstore – Durham, NC
  • The Living Word Bookstore – Chicago, IL
  • The Presence of Africans In the Bible Book Center – Minneapolis, MN
  • The Reading Room Bookstore – Atlanta, GA
  • The Roots Book Store, Inside of Tapers Hair Care – Baton Rouge, LA
  • Too-No Books Etc. – Moss Point, MS
  • Treasures of the Mind Bookstore – Louis, MO
  • Tricia’s Books N’ Things – Houston, TX
  • Truth Boutique & Bookstore, Eastland Mall #823 – Harper Woods, MI
  • Tunde Dada House of Africa – Orange, NJ
  • Tunde Dada House of Africa, Green Acres Mall – Valley Stream, NY
  • Two Friends Bookstore – Atlanta, GA
  • Uhuru Books – Minneapolis, MN
  • Under One Roof Afrikan American Bookstore – Killeen, TX
  • W&W African American Art, Specializing in Books & Gift Items, Etc. – Fayetteville, NC
  • X-pression Bookstore & Gallery – Indianapolis, IN
  • Yawa Books – Washington, DC
  • Yehudah Inc. – Teaneck, NJ
  • Zawadi Gift Shop – Brooklyn, NY

To be continued….

Dr. James Thomas Jones III


5 thoughts on “I Guess That What They Say Is True: If You Want To Keep Something Away From Negroes, Put it in a BOOK!!!!!!! (PART I)”

    1. Gwen, the list was of those that have closed down, and it came from a Troy Johnson compiled list. I am well aware that there are many more that have shuttered their doors. However, it is super important to point out this issue to our community, hopefully, they will intercede.

      Thank you for your comment, it truly makes me feel good to know that the post reached you. I must say, great job on the National Black Festival, I plan to participate, as well as write about it in this space.

    2. Bookstores have closed their doors because of a lack of support from the community that they desperately attempted to serve.

      This list was compiled by the African-American Literature Book Club. Please peruse this list for a Black Bookstore that used to be in your community.

  1. I support our book stores all the time and I definitely encourage others to do the same. Can I give you a couple more to add to this list?

    1. Crystal, you most certainly can. However, this is a list of those that have closed down, I am planning on doing a Part II to point our people toward those that they can support.

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