By Camille Rahatt
Published May 7, 2019

7 Independent Black-Owned Bookstores Reclaiming Their Shelves And Community

Over 200 Black-owned bookstores have closed nationwide since 2002.

But efforts to promote Black literature have been rising, across the U.S.

Here are 7 Black-owned bookshops to grab a good book from and support.

1. Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe

Its mission is to bring history and culture back to their community.

HIGHLAND PARK, MI

Photo credit: Getty Images Photo credit: Getty Images

Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe

Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe is a small gem in the middle of Highland Park, MI, which offers free Wi-Fi, occasional live music and island dishes to patrons and readers. Its mission is to bring history and culture back to their community.

2. Medu Bookstore

This shop specializes in culturally significant books that enhance Black leadership.

ATLANTA, GA

Medu Bookstore

Serving the Atlanta area for over 20 years, Medu Bookstore is located in Greenbriar Mall and specializes in culturally significant books specifically written, published and distributed for the purpose of enhancing Black readership.

3. Uncle Bobbie's coffee & books

CNN contributor and BET News host Marc Lamont Hill’s brain child.

GERMANTOWN, PA

Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books

Nestled in the heart of Germantown, PA, Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books is CNN contributor and BET News host Marc Lamont Hill’s brain child. Serving up lattes, espresso shots and various teas, the shop is a tribute to Hill’s real-life Uncle Bobbie, who helped Hill develop his love for the written word. Hill hopes his new store will motivate the same love of books, learning and dialogue in the community, just as his family instilled in him.

4. Underground BOOKS

Operating under the motto “find your freedom,” the nonprofit bookshop is part of St. HOPE.

Photo credit: Getty Images

SACRAMENTO, CA

Underground Books

Not to be confused with the Underground Bookstore in Chicago, Underground Books of Sacramento, CA, is named after the historical Underground Railroad. Operating under the motto “find your freedom,” the nonprofit bookshop is part of St. HOPE, an organization with a mission to “revitalize Oak Park through Public Education and Economic Development.” Managed by Georgia “Mother Rose” West, the shop has graciously become a well-known literary one-stop shop in the Oak Park community, hosting everything from local and national book signings, lectures, poetry events, children's story times and more.

5. The Lit Bar

The Lit Bar’s objective is to create a haven that inspires reading and positive social interactions.

BRONX, NY

The Lit Bar

After witnessing the gentrification of her Bronx, NY, neighborhood, owner of The Lit Bar Nöelle Santos opened her store in an effort to reclaim the neighborhood and its history. The Lit Bar’s objective is to create a haven that inspires reading and positive social interactions while highlighting the unique voices within the Bronx.

“It’s quite a revolution for black folks to open up a bookstore and to provide these books that are about African-American culture,” Santos said in an interview with Publisher Weekly.

6. Pyramid Books

The book hub uses its voice to educate all people about the African diaspora.

BOYNTON, FL

Pyramid Books

Pyramid Books of Boynton Beach, FL, opened in June 1993, and celebrates Black History Month all year 'round. The book hub uses its voice to educate all people about the African diaspora. They sponsor book fairs and conferences in their community, standing for all the possibilities of Black culture in the book industry.

7. MahoganyBooks

The store’s authentic energy and genuine love for books and Black culture sets them apart.

Photo credit: Getty Images

WASHINGTON D.C.

MahoganyBooks

After starting their online bookstore 12 years ago, MahoganyBooks opened its physical doors in the historic Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC. Owners Derrick and Ramunda Young aim to make books more accessible to Black children throughout the country, while also cultivating books by Black authors and emphasizing Black culture. Ramunda noted that the store’s authentic energy and genuine love for books and Black culture sets them apart from larger stores in the area.

“Here, our customers tap into the culture, have open conversations and feel at ease,” Ramunda told Blavity.

In addition, MahoganyBooks offers Ujima Thursdays, book signings and author readings — just to name a few activities.

Grab a book, kick your feet up and enjoy!

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