Marcus Bookstore| Shop Black in Oakland, CA

If you’ve ever wondered what the oldest Black bookstore like me as well, you’re in luck. Let’s start off with the fact I didn’t know this even existed – for Brown people to have cultivated a business, especially in 1960 was nearly impossible and not an easy track. But to be the oldest is beyond me.

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Front of the Store
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This bookstore still run by their daughters Karen and Blanche Johnson of Dr Julian Richardson and Dr Ray Richardson, whom I had the pleasure of speaking too while there. As an English teacher, I was more than compelled to visit this bookstore, but more importantly, it was my bookstore. It was a bookstore for people like me to go and visit and see all the great works of my people, written by my people! It felt amazing to see the majestic beauty in front of me.

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Here’s an excerpt of our conversation (Taken from our Voice Recording)

Haitian Queen

“There’s a source of knowledge about yourself because if you get it from somebody else, it won’t be true. And all these black bookstores started closing down part of the trickle effect was that black authors were no longer getting published because white publishers had in their head that 1 we don’t read and 2 that when they published a black authors that only black people will read it, which is totally not true because 30% of my customer are not black. So, you’re putting black authors out of business – and if the authors aren’t going to write our story then who’s gonna write it. All were going to hear is we all came here from Africa to be saved from the jungle that’s what we’re going to get. So, there’s a long-reaching effect when you support yourself. “

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African Queen

“There’s a long lasting effect when you support yourself”

Karen Johnson
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Her mother and father were well-known activists and academic leaders in their community. Sadly, Mr Richardson passed away at the age of 84 in the year 2000.

If you’re ever in the area or are intrigued by this bookstore, make sure to stop by, purchase a novel or two and support yourself. Because no one can write a better story about you, than you.

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Book I purchased

Thank You for reading my post! Hope you enjoyed, be kind to yourself and each other. Love one another! See you next time.

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Melissa Philippe, or Mel, is the founder and creator of Da Modern Mama. An organisation built around the advocacy and support for POC maternal health. After being an English educator for 8+ years, Mel decided to devote her time to being a speaker and advocate for women of colour. With degrees in English, Writing and literature while being a doula and certified Montessori educator and an Adult and Child Psychologist focused on development and neuroscience. It's allowed her to learn from both sides of the fence and use the same practices in our family. Melissa is also a multi-award-winning author, writer, educator, parent coach, and keynote speaker. - Melissa Philippe (Laura Valentine)

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