Black-owned bookstores are community pillars that have served as the backdrops of social justice movements, safe spaces for intellectual growth and culturally-driven conversations, and harborers of poignant literature. Hakim’s Bookstore—a historic shop nestled in the heart of West Philadelphia—will receive a historical marker, CBS reported.
The beloved neighborhood gem—which is Philly’s first and longest-standing Black-owned bookstore—was founded by author and scholar Dawud Hakim in 1959. The entrepreneur wanted to cultivate a space that celebrated Black history and culture through literature, and made it his mission to ensure rare books and periodicals that illustrated the different facets of the African diaspora were accessible. The lack of representation on the shelves of mainstream bookstores and libraries motivated him to create Hakim’s Bookstore.
From books about herbology and holistic health to pieces of literature that explored Islamic culture, the shop has been a primary source of valuable and thought-provoking literary resources. Since its inception, the store has used knowledge as a source of empowerment and continues to build upon that legacy. In the coming weeks, the shop will receive an official historical marker from the state of Pennsylvania for its contributions to shaping the cultural landscape of Philadelphia and American history.
Yvonne Blake, Hakim’s daughter, says her father’s legacy is enduring and is being kept alive through every knowledge seeker that steps into their family’s business. “I know he’s not here, but he’s still leaving something with anyone that comes through that door and leaves with a book in their hand,” she shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. “As an African American that this country and other places in the world have not given us our due. I think they get a sense we’re not trying to take anything from anyone, but we just want to be given a fair chance to succeed.”
News about Hakim’s Bookstore’s historic recognition comes a year after the site of Vaughn’s Bookstore—Detroit’s first Black-owned bookshop—received a preservation grant from the National Park Service.