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2 mins read

28 Black Owned Bookstores You Should Know

The number of Black owned bookstores has declined significantly since 1999. That year, there were reportedly more than 325. But, by 2012 had dropped to about 50.  In 2017, the number rose to about 70. We’d like to acknowledge some of the stores that are still going strong.

Black Owned Bookstores

Hakim’s Bookstore (Philadelphia, PA)

Everyone’s Place (Baltimore, MD)

Eso Won (Los Angeles, CA)

Mahogany Books (Washington, DC)

mahogany books

Sankofa (Washington, DC)

Pyramid Art, Books and Custom Framing (Little Rock, AR)

Dare Books (Longwood, FL)

Pyramid Books  (Boynton Beach, FL)

Nubian Bookstore ( Morrow, GA)

Source Booksellers (Detroit, MI)

source booksellers

Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe’ (Highland Park, MI)

Eyeseeme (University City, MO)


La Unique African American Books & Cultural Center(Camden, NJ)

The Community Book Center (New Orleans, LA)

Cafe con Libros (Brooklyn, NY)

cafe con libros
sisters uptown bookstore

Sisters Uptown Bookstore (New York, NY)

Grandma’s Place (Harlem, NY)

Black Art Plus (Columbus, OH)

Black and Nobel (Philadelphia, PA)

black and nobel

Uncle Bobbies Coffee & Books (Philadelphia, PA)

black owned bookstores
uncle bobbies

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse (Philadelphia, PA)

black owned bookstores
amalgam comics

Color Book Gallery (Philadelphia, PA)

The Pan African Connection (Dallas, TX)

The Dock Bookshop (Fort Worth, TX)

Black W0rld Books (Kileen, TX)

Harambee Books and Artworks (Alexandria, VA)


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4 mins read

“Vintage Black Glamour” Books Highlight Timeless Elegance

Using her ” Vintage Black Glamour ” books, Nichelle Gainer showcases a stunning collection of images from an era when folks would wear evening gowns and tuxedo’s  just to the grocery store.

Ok, maybe no one took things to that extreme, but the “Vintage Black Glamour” books are definitely filled with photographs and stories of women who epitomize Black glamour. Nichelle’s follow up book, “Vintage Black Glamour: Gentlemen’s Quarters” is filled with stories and photographs of their male counterparts.

Seeing as I appreciate most things dapper, classy and elegant, I had to speak with Nichelle about her books. This is what she had to say:

Dorothy Dandridge

SB: What inspired you to create these books?

I was doing research for a novel (that I still plan to finish) and found a lot of fascinating information and photos on legendary women like Lena Horne that I hadn’t come across before – and women who happened to be in my own family.

Two aunts on two different sides of my family who bookend the first book.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t have a set amount of time for research, I just do what I have to do and can do before the deadline. Deadlines are really great for finalizing research (haha). 

Aretha Franklin

What part of the book writing process is the most fun and which is the most challenging?

The part of the book process that is most fun varies – but usually, it’s finishing it! The most challenging (for the Vintage Black Glamour books) is usually fitting in all of the information I want to get across.

The supremes – 1965

What is one of the most interesting people or stories that you learned about while doing research for the books?

It’s hard to pinpoint one because there are so many. That’s the thing about our history, there is never just “one” – there are a lot who have been left out of history books and documentaries over the years. They’re all interesting to me. 

J. Rosamond Johnson. Bob and Bob Cole

What images were the most difficult to find?

The challenge is usually in finding the most unique image that hasn’t already been seen everywhere.

Maya Angelou

It’s not about being hard to find a certain image of a certain person, just the most interesting. Believe me, a lot of these photos have been “hiding” in plain sight in archives forever.

Lola Falana – 1973

Do you have any other books in the works?

Yes! I am working on another Vintage Black Glamour book with many of the women we couldn’t get into the first edition for one reason or another. It will include Grace Jones, Chaka Khan and more.

nat king cole

I will go later in the eighties to include Whitney Houston. It’s going to have a different vibe from the first book.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write and finish what you are writing. Even if you don’t feel like it. Then do it again. 

Author, Nichelle Gainer

Pick up your copies here!


@Tony O. Lawson

9 mins read

Luvvie Ajayi on her African Identity, Social Justice, Shopping Black & More!

Luvvie Ajayi started writing 13 years ago while in college. In 2006, she created her popular blog, Fast forward to 2016, she dropped her first book, “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual,” and it became #1 on the New York Best Seller list almost as fast as Beyoncé’s Lemonade topped the music charts.


She’s an award-winning writer, digital strategist, speaker, and leader of the Luvv Nation, her loyal following of hundreds of thousands of “play cousins” who come in all colors and include ninety-four-year-old Mother Dorethea.

Mother dorothea
Mother Dorothea

The “Wacky Wordsmith” and “Side-Eye Sorceress” is also a socially conscious woman who has strong opinions on everything from systematic racism to who makes better Jollof rice, Nigeria or Ghana. We won’t debate that here since we all know the answer is Nigeria.


Luvvie recently took some time to chat with us and was just as delightful as expected. Since her book is based on the premise of doing better, I asked who she feels should and could do better. “I feel everyone needs to do better,” she said. “That’s why I wrote the book for everyone, including myself. I could do better by being on time more often.”

Fun fact: Since our phone call got pushed back 20 minutes from its originally scheduled time, I silently agreed with her on that one.


From reading her blog and social media posts, you can tell that Luvvie is very honest and uses her authentic voice when she writes. I asked her what’s the best part about being vulnerable and putting herself out there.

Her response: “The best part is that I can always defend myself because I always say what I mean and mean what I say. The worst part is that someone will always disagree with my opinion. But, that’s just what comes with speaking your truth.”


Luvvie moved to the US from Nigeria when she was nine years old. At school, children of immigrant parents sometimes try to distance themselves from their culture in order to avoid being picked on. She has often mentioned that she mimicked her American classmates in an effort to lose her Nigerian accent.

11214723_10105310191625230_7622769560673845217_nI asked how and when she started to embrace her “Nigerian-ness”. She laughed and said that she wrote a whole chapter about this very topic in the book. She encouraged me to read it. (Oops. #Busted).

Luvvie did however explain that she started embracing Nigerian culture much more while attending college. “Seeing other African students unabashedly being themselves encouraged me to do the same.”

12919838_10106111270227290_2581282462670658908_nI wanted to get her opinion on a recent episode of my new favorite show, Atlanta. There was a scene when the character, Paper Boi, says: “I don’t trust Nigerians.” I asked Luvvie if she watched that episode and if so, what were her thoughts. She hasn’t seen the episode yet. Probably something to do with her touring the whole country doing bestselling book-related work.


I told her that the scene irked me because it reminded me that even though Nigerians are known for being highly educated go-getters, we still have a stigma of being scammers or dishonest in some way. She responded by saying the best solution is for us to just be our true selves. “People who know us will know the stereotype is not true because they have examples of Nigerians who aren’t like that.”


Over the past few years, we’ve seen too many incidents of police brutality. In response, there have been riots and calls for different types of protests, e.g. marches and boycotts. I asked how she feels she is doing her part to dismantle systematic racism and white supremacy. Luvvie went on to say, “I’m a writer. I’m the person who tells the stories and analyzes what’s happening. I’m using my voice and platform to change minds and calling for people to do something.”


Since we were on the topic of social injustice, I told her about a recent conversation I had with an older relative who lives in Nigeria. This relative’s response to one of the police shootings was along the lines of, “That’s what the police will do when they see your jeans falling off your bottom.” I asked Luvvie what she thought was the best way to communicate this particular subject matter with Africans who may not “get it” just yet.

cvlgzjavmaclorcShe stated that the way to address the issue is to just explain that Black people are getting killed by the police regardless of what they are wearing. “If they want to kill us, they will kill us. When a cop sees us, they aren’t like, ‘Oh, that’s an African. Let’s treat them differently from a Black American.’ We’re are all in the same fight.”

14358671_10157456394680405_4743425172741720158_nAt Shoppe Black, we’re all about supporting Black owned businesses. I’ve seen Luvvie rocking t-shirts, sweaters, and other gear that comes from Black companies. I asked her how important it is to her that we support Black owned businesses? “It’s really important,” she said.  “We need to build black wealth and part of how we do that is by supporting Black owned businesses and put dollars into Black people who are doing good work.”

awe-luv-tees-slideshowLuvvie likes to buy shirts from Black graphic designers and she partners with a Black t-shirt designer to carry her t-shirt line. “I think any way we can collaborate with those who are doing dope things is good. I think we should sometimes go out of our way to ensure that we are keeping the money in the Black community.”


When asked if she has any advice for other writers who want to take their craft to the next level, she said, “They just have to keep at it. Keep doing the work. Sometimes people think that you just have to show up and things will happen. No, you have to do it when it’s not paying you money. You have to do it because you love it. The love will keep you going even when it’s difficult and you are exhausted.”

“So, what’s next for Luvvie?”, I asked. “I think TV is next,” she said. “I’d like to see my book adapted to a TV show. I may also try my hand at TV writing. I’m open to see what drops at my feet.”

If Luvvie’s current success is any indicator, we know we’ll be seeing many more dope projects from her.

redpumplogotransLuvvie is the founder of The Red Pump Project, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual is now available for purchase here.


-Tony Lawson