Finding Purpose Through Literature on Nia, the Fifth Day of Kwanzaa

Finding Purpose Through Literature on Nia, the Fifth Day of Kwanzaa

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Illustration: Franzi (Shutterstock)

The best way to educate ourselves is by listening to those around us with shared and different experiences. Each person serves a different purpose in this world, and it is important to pay attention to what they say. The fifth night of Kwanzaa represents Nia, or purpose. In a time when we can’t attend talks in public or even really sit and engage with someone next to us, carving out time to read is an important way to bring those voices into our lives. Here are some Black-owned bookstores to find that next good book.

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Black Pearl Books

Black Pearl Books

Katrina Brooks founded Black Pearl Books, an independent bookstore in Austin, Texas, with the idea to create a space for diversity, inclusion, cultural awareness and equity in literature. The name “Black Pearl” comes from a rare gemstone that means independence, strength, wisdom, wealth, love, prosperity, and hope.

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Books and Crannies

Books and Crannies

Book and Crannies was founded by DeShanta Hairston in 2016 after a mass closing of bookstores in the Martinsville, Va., area. Books and Crannies feature fiction and nonfiction books as well as children’s books and a selection of used books. Book and Crannies grew during the Black Lives Matter movement in June 2020 after Hairston posted a viral tweet about being afraid of promoting her Black-owned business for fear of losing white customers. Books and Crannies has been hosting monthly Zoom book clubs since the beginning of March 2020.

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Cafe con Libros

Cafe con Libros

Intersectional feminist bookstore and coffee shop, Cafe con Libros (coffee with books), was founded by Kalima DeSuze in 2017. Located in Brooklyn, N.Y., this small bookstore offers literary retail, book club and subscription boxes. The store’s mission is to create a safe space for people to learn and support independent authors while having somewhere to converge and be together.

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MahoganyBooks

MahoganyBooks

MahoganyBooks was founded in 2007 as an online resource to help people find books written about, by or for the African Diaspora. In 2017, Ramunda and Derrick Young opened their flagship bookstore in Anacostia Arts Center in Washington, D.C. Their reason for remaining an online platform for 10 years was to ensure that all events they engaged with were always offered to Black people across the country. Over the last 13 years, MahoganyBooks has donated over 1,000 books to youth, hosted over 600 literary events in the DMV area, and was named one of the Top 100 Minority Businesses in the DC Capital Region in 2019.

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Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery

Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery

Semicolon is Chicago’s only Black female-owned bookstore and gallery space. The concept began when founder Danielle Mullen walked by a vacant storefront and in the summer of 2019, Semicolon opened. Semicolon is a cross between an art gallery and a bookstore and Mullen uses her background as a museum curator to find ways for the art and books to intersect in the space.

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The Lit. Bar

The Lit. Bar

The Lit. Bar opened on April 27, 2019 (National Indie Bookstore Day). Bronx native, Noëlle Santos, founded the bookstore as a community space for events, shopping and art. Santos saw the need for the store because of the power that literature holds and the message that a Black female-owned business can have in the community.

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Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books

Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books

Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books was founded by Marc Lamont Hill in 2017. It was created to support underserved communities and provide them with a safe space and access to events such as author talks, workshops, weekly storytimes for children and back to school drives. In addition to their curated book collection, Uncle Bobbie’s sells coffee, food products and apparel.

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