There are maps. Then there are maps of Black-owned bookstores across America; mighty yet sparse anchors of literature. Supporting small businesses is crucial. I may be preaching to the choir. Supporting Black businesses commits to the stories of Black authors from further diverse backgrounds, along with the owners who are passionate about storytelling as an art. Supporting Black-owned storytelling programs empowers Black writers and their voices.
Turning Page Bookstore in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Browsing the shelves brought joy for the stories I knew and informed me of books I did not. They have a lovely children’s reading room.
Marcus Books in Oakland is the oldest Black-owned bookstore. Their mural on the side of the store shows the power of Oakland with the Black Panthers and Tupac. Book spines align the mural of renowned Black literature.
Elizabeth’s Bookshop and Writing Center Based in Akron, OH, activist and author Rachel Cargle manifested a place that was “designed to amplify and celebrate marginalized voices.” As noted on the website, a percentage of sales benefits The Loveland Foundation, which supports mental health access to Black women and girls. The foundation was also founded by Cargle.
Ethel’s Club is a social club based in Brooklyn, NY named after owner Naj Austin’s beloved grandmother. The space creates healing and creativity for people of color.
Harriet’s Bookshop in Philadelphia. Owned by Jeannine A. Cook, the bookstore is named after the incomparable heroine Harriet Tubman and “celebrates women authors, women authors, and women activists.”
Pyramid Art, Books, & Custom Framing in Little Rock, Arkansas was founded in 1988 with a love of Black art and culture. They do custom framing. They also have select reference material and art books.
Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury, MA has championed being a small, high demand business. They are committed to promoting literacy for children, teens, and adults.
Sistah Scifi in Oakland. Founder Isis Asare envisioned Sistah Scifi as “a cauldron of all things afro-futurism; Black mysticism, science fiction noir, and traditional voodoo; casting spells to uplift literature written by Black women.” In addition to books, they have comic books, merchandise, e-books, and audiobooks.
I encourage you to commit to purchasing from these bookstores and supporting these programs. These bookstores and programs will be the first of a series, so stay tuned!