It's Black History Month, but quite frankly, learning about black history and supporting black voices should be a year-round event. One method of support you may not have considered is buying from a black-owned bookstore. Specifically, we want to profile a black-owned bookstore that has been going viral on Twitter from people rallying to support it! It needs all the help it can get, and it can provide you with all of the new books your heart desires!
Nappy Roots Books, up until a few months ago, was the only black-owned bookstore in Oklahoma City (Belle Books, Boutique & More opened in September). This place was stretched pretty thin in terms of resources. In addition to being a bookstore, Nappy Roots Books is also an art gallery and meeting space for activist events.
The pandemic did halt any indoor events for the store, so they simply moved things to the parking lot. In last October alone, they hosted an African American Storytelling festival, a discussion panel of Indigenous women, and a free hip hop concert to promote voter registration.
Unfortunately, the pandemic did force the store to close down in February and re-open last June. Since then sales, definitely haven’t been where the store needed, to the point where co-owner Camille Landry paid the store’s rent out of her own pocket.
But once the first day of Black History Month rolled around, Landry encountered a genuine miracle.
News reports began flooding in about the bookstore in need, and many people posted their support on social media to raise awareness. The nation-wide attention caught the eye of True Sky Credit Union, who stepped in to show the biggest support the store had seen thus far.
Nappy Roots Books is the *only* Black bookstore in Oklahoma. They have been closed since the COVID-19 outbreak but will reopen on Juneteenth.
— Dr. Iliana Rocha (@la_ilianarocha) June 10, 2020
I’ve made a donation to the bookstore. Will you consider donating too? https://t.co/wbhZrLdXNf
Read their about here: pic.twitter.com/MLkuK9kQo5
Our neighbors at Nappy Roots Books need our help. They are 1 of only ~80 Black-owned bookstores in the entire US & the pandemic has hit them particularly hard, placing them in danger of eviction. Please consider making a donation to them right now: https://t.co/steMC5hP27 pic.twitter.com/Dqg3hDOZJr
— Andy Moore (@andyokc) January 25, 2021The organization worked with Nappy Roots Books to cover their expenses for the next several months. They also donated enough money to purchase 150 books for Nappy Roots’s daycare and after school community programs. These books will also be given away during the entirety of Black History Month to those who can’t afford them.
The first day of Black History Month has always been a celebration for Nappy Roots Books, and True Sky stepping in to support them that day was a fantastic form of solidarity. It’s important to mention that at this point, Camille Landry and her other co-owner Banbose Shando don’t have salaries in order to keep the bookstore operational. Ever dollar they make is going back into supporting the local community first, and then making sure the utility bill is paid.
Seriously, there are so many ways to find black-owned businesses in your hometown or across the country. This site lists the numerous apps and websites for various categories of black-owned businesses, including numerous other bookstores! From the list, I would definitely recommend We Buy Black, which bills itself as the “Black Amazon”. This online marketplace allows you to search for any kind of product you need and directs to the black-owned businesses who can ship them directly to you.