If you’re attending Snow Days, hear Ramunda Young of MahoganyBooks in Washington, DC; Donya Craddock of The Dock Bookshop in Fort Worth, Texas; Danielle Moore of Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago, Illinois; and Hannah Oliver Depp of Loyalty Bookstore in Silver Springs, Maryland, at Report From the Field: Black Female Entrepreneurship: Bookselling and Literacy as Resistance.
Here’s a highlight of just some of their stores' activism and contributions to the bookselling ecosystem at large:
In February, MahoganyBooks partnered with the Justice4Garvey campaign to petition President Joe Biden to grant a posthumous pardon to civil rights leader Marcus Garvey. This campaign focused on raising public awareness.
MahoganyBooks also celebrated Black Love Day (February 13). On Instagram, Ramunda Young shared how she first celebrated Black Love Day at Langston University. “Fast forward 25 years and I invite the Queen and visionary of this powerful day to chat at our Anacostia store,” Young wrote. “Who’d ever imagine that you’d be face-to-face with the creator behind something so important to you?”
The Dock Bookshop
In January, The Dock Bookshop (another Justice4Garvey partner) was recognized as Black Owned Business of the Year by the American Airlines Black Professional Network. Throughout 2021, the bookstore held a number of events for its community, including a Spring Fling headlined by Kierra Sheard-Kelly; Literary SoulFEST, which celebrated the freedom to read and write; Texas, Roses Romance & Readers, which celebrated romance novels; and a Kwanzaa celebration.
Semicolon runs Parenthesis Used Bookstore, a nonprofit that aims to close the literacy gap in marginalized communities. Semicolon Bookstore has given over $175,000 in books and direct donations to Chicago Public Schools students in its first year of existence!
In 2021, Semicolon also launched National Black Literacy Day, a holiday dedicated to increasing literacy rates in Black communities. They petitioned for its existence and got mayoral proclamation, and are working to move Black Literacy Day into a national holiday.
Loyalty runs a full roster of events and book clubs each week, dedicated to highlighting diverse voices and creatives. To that end, the store curates and promotes a list of books by BIPOC authors that are available to preorder. Preorders boost print runs, help with placement on the New York Times bestseller list, and tell the publishing industry that “readership for [these books] isn’t a trend."
ABA's Emily Behnke and Britt Camacho contributed to this article.