Marcus Books, the Fillmore District institution that’s been in the same Victorian at 1712 Fillmore St. since 1960, must move out by June 18, following an April bankruptcy sale that saw the storied building sold for a fraction of what it is likely worth. —The San Francisco Examiner, June 09, 2013
The following video, published online by the Wall Street Journal on February 11, 2010, beautifully illustrates the importance of Marcus Books.
The petition was initiated by Jasmine Johnson of San Francisco, CA. The petition is an attempt to help convince the current owners to sell the building, containing the bookstore, at a small profit to Westside Community Services who will ensure Marcus Bookstore remains open:
“Westside Community Services, an established agency in the Western Addition that has partnered with Marcus Books to provide services for many years, has offered to repurchase the property from the Sweis family in order to keep the bookstore at its current site. “We’ve made a very good offer, in excess of the purchase price,” said Dr. Mary Ann Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Westside. “We hope that the Sweises will accept it and that they understand what an incommensurable loss it would be if Marcus Books was forced out.”
Marcus Books has hosted thousands of authors including Oprah Winfrey, Patti Labelle, James Baldwin, B.B. King, Rosa Parks, Toni Morrison, and Malcolm X. Prior to Marcus Books, the storefront was Jimbo’s Bop City, a jazz club that hosted musical greats and is largely responsible for Fillmore Street being named the “Harlem of the West.”
We are asking the Sweis family to preserve this legacy by selling the property to Westside Community Services.” Click here to sign the petition.
I’ve been tracking Independent Black owned stores for some time. Unfortunately, across the country, this story is too often repeated. The reasons are as varied as the stores themselves. Regardless of the reasons for the closures, the importance of independent bookstores, focused on Black books, remains the same. The reasons are best articulated by Marcus Bookstore co-owner Blanche Richardson, during a 2008 interview with Bookslut:
“To provide a resource for the community for books by and about Black people everywhere. It is essential that all cultures have a place where they can access information about themselves — their history, their culture, their unique issues, their political and social standing in the greater society, and a place where children have access to books that show them in a positive light.”
Most of you reading this message don’t live anywhere near the Marcus Bookstore in San Francisco and may never visit it, but the battle to save this store, and other like it, is our and ours alone.
Even if the battle to save the San Francisco Marcus Bookstore is lost, by raising awareness of this battle, more people will be made aware of the larger war against all of our cultural institutions and become motivated to do something to help a local institution not just survive, but thrive.
Marcus Books 2nd location (not under threat of closure)