Stone Center to host symposium on the status of black bookstores

On Thursday, March 28, at 6:30 pm, the Stone Center will host the 2019 Diaspora Lecture and Roundtable. This year's program will feature a small symposium entitled Black-Owned Bookstores: Their Struggle for Survival and Revival. This event will examine the pioneering role of Black bookstores, an often-overlooked element in the story of Black community development and Black empowerment in the United States. The event will feature a presentation by Professor Joshua Clark Davis whose recent book, From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs (Columbia University Press, 2017), includes a chapter entitled “Liberation Through Literacy: African American Bookstores, Black Power, and the Mainstreaming of Black Books.” Davis’ research included extensive review of FBI files and additional interviews with the owners of Black bookstores. His work, featured in The Atlantic (“The FBI's War on Black-Owned Bookstores,” February 19, 2018), concluded that there had been an organized campaign to undermine the key and central role of Black bookstores in community life.

Joshua Clark Davis

Davis teaches and researches broadly in twentieth-century United States history, with a focus on capitalism, social movements, popular culture, urban history, and African American history. Josh earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His book,  From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs (Columbia University Press, 2017) explores how small businesses such as organic food stores, head shops, feminist businesses, and African American bookstores emerged from social movements and countercultures in the 1960s and '70s. Forerunners of today's social entrepreneurs, these companies sought to democratize American business while advancing political liberation and cultural transformation. Davis’s research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fulbright Scholar Program. He has written for Jacobin, The Washington Postand The Atlantic and his work has been featured in Time , Slate, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Philadelphia Inquirer , and USA Today Davis is also a devoted public historian with a deep interest in working with communities beyond universities. He serves on the advisory board of the Baltimore Uprising 2015 Archive Project and as a research associate for the Library of Congress’s Radio Preservation Task Force. He also co-directs "Media and the Movement," a NEH-funded oral history and radio digitization project based at UNC on activists of the Civil Rights and Black Power era who worked in media.

Davis will be joined by:

Lewis A. Brandon III: Brandon was a student organizer during the early 1960s while he was an undergraduate student at North Carolina A&T State University. Brandon was one of the founders of the Greensboro Association of Poor People in 1968, was active in the formation of the Greensboro Community Truth and Reconciliation Project in 1991 and the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2004. Currently, Brandon serves as the Director of Beloved Community Center’s Grassroots History Project.

Paul Coates: Coates is the founder and director of Black Classic Press and BCP Digital Printing. He is also the former owner of The Black Book, a Baltimore-based bookshop. As the father of author Ta-Nehesi Coates, he has been featured in his son's writings.

Shirikiana Aina Gerima: Shirikiana is a writer and director. She directed the documentary Brick By Brick, a rare look at the issues of displacement and urban gentrification in the poor, black neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. Later, she co-produced Sankofa (1993), directed by her husband, Haile Gerima, which received critical praise and prizes for its representation of the horrors of slavery in the West Indies and the pursuit of freedom. Her latest work includes Through the Door of No Return (1997), which documents Aina’s journey to Ghana and the experience of her ancestors. This feature was shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 1997. She has also worked as a cinematographer for various documentaries such as Politics of African Cinema and On Becoming a Woman.

Clarence Lusane: currently Chair of the Political Science Department at Howard University where he teaches courses in comparative race relations, modern social movements, comparative politics of the Americas and Europe, and jazz and international relations. He is an author, activist, and scholar and a well-respected expert in the areas of human rights, global race relations, U.S. elections and politics, and international relations. He has lectured on these topics in over 60 countries.

Kalamu ya Salaam: a New Orleans native, Salaam is a poet, filmmaker, and teacher. He is the founder of WordBand, a poetry performance group; the NOMMO Literary Society; and Runagate Press. Salaam has written seven books of poetry. His play, "The Breath of Life," was honored by Louisiana State University, and "BLK Love Song #1" won a Best of Fringe Award from The Manchester Evening News in England.

Michael Simanga: Simanga is a Lecturer in the Department of African American Studies at Georgia State University, having received his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the Union Institute & University and his B.A. in History from Oglethorpe University. His specializations and research interests are Activism, African American Art and Culture, and African Americans in Film. He is an activist, cultural worker, artist, and scholar in African American art and culture as expression of identity, forms of resistance, and transformation.

Ed Vaughn: Vaughn is the former owner of Vaughn's Bookstore, a staple in the Black liberation movement in Detroit during the 1960s.

Bro. Yao (Hoke S. Glover, III): Bro. Yao is a professor at Bowie State University in the Department of Language, Literature, and Cultural Studies. Prior to working at Bowie State University, he founded, owned, and operated Karibu Books, the nation's largest black-owned book chains. He currently runs "Free Black Space" and is focused on literary in the African American community.

This event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available after 5pm in the Bell Tower Deck directly behind the Stone Center; there are also 2 accessible spots near the entrance.