Frederick Douglass is often quoted as saying, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” That statement, whether actually spoken by the famed abolitionist or not, is central to the mission of some of our favorite Black-owned bookstores in the USA. Books don't just enlighten, they help us take flight.
After generations of police brutality and racial injustice, it’s clear that many of us (yes, even the most woke) still have much more to learn and understand about the plight faced by the Black community and other people of color. Which is why, during Black History Month, we're striving for broadened perspectives, deeper understandings, and more robust conceptualizations of the world around us by picking up more books by Black authors. But our education won't stop there. Black history, culture, political thought, and action are important all year long.
RECOMMENDED: our full guide to Black History Month in the USA
We're looking to ten phenomenal Black-owned bookstores in the USA to guide us on our literary journey, from the country's oldest independent Black-owned bookstore in the country, Oakland’s Marcus Books, to the Afro-Latina-owned feminist bookstore Cafe con Libros in New York. In our list, we lay out some of the most recommended and best-selling Black-authored books on their shelves including contemporary fiction by Yaa Gyasi and Brit Bennett, classics by Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler, and racial reckonings by Ibram X. Kendi and bell hooks.
For more ways to celebrate Black History Month all year long, check out our ultimate guide to must-visit Black-owned businesses in the USA and the trailblazing Black chefs, brewers and restauranteurs making waves across the country.