Photo credit: Abdul Sulayman
Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is helping spread more knowledge with the recent opening of his bookstore and coffee shop in Philadelphia. One of today's most recognizable intellectuals, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is a celebrated fixture of the Black and mainstream media communities with recurring appearances on CNN, VH1 and several other news outlets. In addition to sharing his knowledge to nationwide audiences, he also has a blossoming teaching career that has lead him to Columbia University, Morehouse College and his alma mater, Temple University.
Now, Hill can add owner of a Black bookstore to his list of accomplishments. Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books is located in Philadelphia and is named in honor of his late uncle whose conversations helped Hill develop his racial consciousness. He plans to use the space to showcase local talent and encourage emerging writers by creating a space for the exchange of ideas.
Hill's new venture contributes to the recent rise in independent bookstores but the decision to open a book store that will be open seven days a week and employ 10 people wasn't easy, according to Hill. With bookstores facing difficulties and closings due to the rise of the online book market, there has been an even more dramatic decrease in Black bookstores nationwide, with only 54 remaining. The opening of the new bookstore by Hill helps to boost that number and influence a community just as Hill was inspired by his neighborhood bookstore.
"The tradition of Black bookstores and Black publishing is the thing that helped me to develop an identity and my sense of critical analysis and helped me to understand Blackness in a different and more nuanced way," said Hill to Diverse, recalling his frequent childhood visits to Hakim's bookstore—a Black owned shop located in West Philadelphia’s Black neighborhood. "Black bookstores helped me to develop a love of self and a knowledge of self. They showed me what was possible."
If you're in Philadelphia, make sure to visit Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books located at 5445 Germantown Ave. Congratulations and good luck to Hill on his new enterprise!