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December 5, 2019

Oldest Black-Owned Bookstore in the Country Founded 60 Years Ago is Still Thriving

Marcus Books, the oldest Black-owned book store in the country

Marcus Books, based in Oakland, California, is known as the nation's oldest Black-owned bookstore. Founded by the Richardson family in the 1960s, the establishment is still going strong and is still very relevant in the publishing world, allowing Black history and creativity to be recognized and preserved.
Dr. Julian Richardson and his wife Dr. Raye Richardson established what was initially called Success Book Store in San Francisco's Fillmore district inside their printing shop. It was eventually named Marcus Books in honor of the political leader and publisher, Marcus Garvey.

Their children now manage the family-owned bookstore. Karen Johnson, their daughter, said his father has always wanted to open a bookstore "for and by Black people." And even though some of their bookstore locations were closed due to rising rents, they are proud that the Oakland location is still thriving.

Some of their loyal patrons include educators who are finding books that are usually not available in larger publishers as well as new authors who are interested in having their books on the shelves of Marcus Books.

"I used to go there when it was in the Fillmore," Maureen Sullivan, a teacher-librarian told Fox KTVU. "It's an institution. It's too bad that it's no longer in San Francisco and there's hope that will happen again. I'm really glad that Marcus Books still thrives in Oakland."

"I've known about this place since college," said new author Daud Jadi. "For me it was a natural thing, a natural progression, to come here first because if I can get my book in Marcus Bookstore then I've accomplished something in my life."

Within its nearly 60 years in the business, Marcus Books has also been graced with the presence of several authors, celebrities, and speakers such as Muhammad Ali, Patti LaBelle, Barry White, B.B. King, and Rosa Parks. It also hosted a number of organizations including the Association of Black Policeman, the Black Firefighters Association, the Black Nurses Association, among others.

Learn more about Marcus Books, visit MarcusBooksOakland.com