Founder and owner of Raleigh’s Liberation Station Bookstore.
Why did you create the Liberation Station Bookstore?
In 2019, my family was going through a massive transition. We were falling on difficult times financially, but our children were still dreaming. Our oldest son, Langston, was like, “Mom, I really want to start writing books, and I want to be able to sell the books.” We went to Barnes & Noble, and it was difficult finding the type of books that he wanted to write and books that represented our children. My husband and I sat down and asked, “What’s in our account,” and we didn’t really have a lot.
But one thing about us: we’re always innovating. We took the last bit of money and opened up a bookstore to try to see if we can create the space that our children were desiring. We didn’t have any access to capital, or brick and mortar, and so we were like, “Well, what do we have that’s mobile? Our car.” So we literally just bought books, and worked out of there, and encouraged our children to continue writing until we gained enough momentum and traction to be able to house their stories.
How has the mission of the Liberation Station Bookstore changed over the past two years?
Originally, our mission was for our children, but then we [asked], “What can we do to give what we’re giving to our children everywhere?” Our first partner was Sarah P. Duke Gardens and we curated a small collection of books, the Black Lit library. We created a space where little kids can come visit the gardens, and be on a college campus to hear stories about themselves. We want to have it just be in the fabric of their childhood. That flowed over into The Durham Hotel to give children the experience of luxury without requiring anything of them. We said we’re going to continue going into these spaces where children of color might not necessarily feel comfortable.
Then, George Floyd was killed, and instantly, our small business became a global business. In a matter of weeks. But it was really hard for me to feel and embrace the success of that moment, because we understood where it came from. I felt so much anger as a parent and as a Black woman. I realized that the children don’t need to see a reflection of what the world is telling them. They need to see joy. So the mission became about them entering our libraries, and feeling peace, not feeling that anger, that tension. We wanted to create deep breaths, all over the city.
Do you see the Liberation Station Bookstore symbolizing a new future of literature and art?
I believe it to be a pathway towards true liberation. I want this work to create a boundless generation. We want to affirm children early, so when they get to these spaces where there are perceived glass ceilings and closed doors, they will know to bring their chalk and make the door, and they will know to shatter the glass. And to have complete joy in the midst of all of that.
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