As Juneteenth officially became recognized as a federal holiday this week to mark the freeing of enslaved African Americans in the wake of the Civil War, many across the country are putting a spotlight on the special day by spreading awareness and recognizing the history and achievements of the Black community.
For Black-owned bookstores like Cafe con Libros, an intersectional feminist bookstore and coffee shop in Brooklyn, New York, which focuses on selling books about women's stories, Juneteenth is about reflecting on the stories within the Black community.
One of the ways they're celebrating Juneteenth's 156 anniversary is by hosting a virtual discussion with the Black-Owned Bookstore Collective; actress Rashida Jones; andZakiya Dalila Harris, author of of "The Other Black Girl," which is also "GMA's" Book Club pick for June.
"One of the things we focus on is uplifting the stories that are telling the people's history," Cafe Con Libros owner Kalima DeSuze told "Good Morning America." "This event with 'The Other Black Girl' [author] is a celebration of Juneteenth. When people are celebrating July 4, [Cafe Con Libros] doesn't celebrate that because we weren't free on July 4, 1776. That has nothing to do with me and my history, but Juneteenth does and so that is a part of the history. That's something that we celebrate and we uplift."
DeSuze created the Black Owned Bookstore Collective, an informal group of Black-owned bookstore owners across the country amid the pandemic, to find community and support fellow small business owners. Together with her peers, DeSuze hopes to keep the conversation going all year long about the importance of Black-owned bookstores and what people can do to support them.
Read more about what Juneteenth means to DeSuze in our conversation below.
GMA: How do you believe Black-owned bookstores build the community?
Kalima DeSuze: For me, I think that bookstores sort of on multiple levels represent the current socio-political climate of the country, whatever is happening. Bookstores are really committed to elevating the stories that people are writing about our socio political context. They serve as a timeline for that. It's a place where people can find community and also find a place where they are learning and developing and they are growing.
Why is it important to support Black-owned bookstores on Juneteenth and always?
I think the problem with just highlighting one day as a celebration is what I want to move away from and to stick with celebrating and supporting Black-owned bookstores every single day. We should always be having this conversation whether it's Juneteenth or July fourth or whatever day in the year. We should just be having a conversation about what does it mean to support folks who have been systematically marginalized at multiple levels.
Are there any challenges that you face as a Black female business owner and how does the Black-Owned Bookstore Collective make the community of Black-owned bookstores stronger?
Many of us who are opening up Black-owned bookstores are mostly women. The majority are women or femme identity. And we don't have the money or the resources or the access to publishers -- we don't have insight when we come into the bookstore industry. What we have is a passionate commitment to our communities. We get to sort of build new competent, strong and confident bookstore owners just by coming together. There's so much to know about the bookstore industry. What we need to do is figure out how to act in unison and not allow capitalism to pit us against one another.
Here's a list of Black-owned bookstores to support all year long:
Cafe con Libros in Brooklyn, New York
Malik Books in Los Angeles
Shelves Bookstore in Charlotte, North Carolina
Cafe Noir in Memphis, Tennessee
Bookshop at the Bottom in Knoxville, Tennessee
Turning Page Bookshop in Goose Creek, South Carolina
Black Pearl Books in Austin, Texas
Kindred Stories in Houston
SOA Co. Books in Houston
Niche Book Bar in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Brain Lair Books in South Bend, Indiana
Beyond Barcodes Bookstore in Kokomo, Indiana
Da Book Joint in South Holland, Illinois