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Help ‘The Harlem of the West’ Stay Alive!
Marcus Books is the country’s longest-running black-owned bookstore and it is desperately in danger of closing. The San Francisco bookstore has been in its same location on Fillmore Street since 1981. As this change.org petition indicates:
Marcus Books is the oldest black-owned bookstore in the county. It has been located on San Francisco’s Fillmore Street since 1981. The bookstore currently faces eviction.
After a predatory loan, the San Francisco bookstore was under threat of foreclosure. The building was sold off in bankruptcy court to real estate investors, Nishan and Suhaila Sweis, who own a taxicab company and specialize in finding distressed properties for investment opportunities.
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.”