Don’t Lose a Community Gem
New Orleans Black community is about to lose another African-American institution.
Sept. 29, 2012 is the 29th anniversary of Community Book Center. Recently, I stopped by the Center as a part of my new routine (I guess I haven’t always been diligent either) of purchasing at least one book at Community per month. I held a brief discussion with proprietor Vera Warren Williams. She pointed to a date on the calendar and said “That’s our 29th anniversary” but there was no pride or joy or enthusiasm in her voice. I in fact detected sadness.
The reality is that Community is having a rough time economically. Opportuntities the book store once depended on, such as serving as the exclusive book vendor at the annual Essence Festival, have vanished as the national media company opened the event up to retail giant Wal-Mart. Community is hardly able to compete with the rock-bottom prices the super shopping center offers. And its position as a brand sponsor of the event has also pushed any other book retailiers to the periphery of the festival's market place. To top it off, Community is not getting much community support either.
Vera’s declaration reminded me of a mother who once had that same look in her eyes as she pointed to a date on the calendar and said; “That’s my son’s court date.”
Some say “If you want to hide something from a Black man put it in a book.” I don’t believe that. I know many Black folks who love reading. But not many of them support our bookstore. WHY NOT? I’m not going to bore you with the greener grass or colder ice theories we always use to beat each other up.
At least once every month I very selectively purchase a book at the bookstore. For you see the bookstore provides an extra service. There is a excellent customer service rendered by Jennifer, who has been at Community for many years. She is knowledgeable and engaging. Just tell her what book you want; and she will tell you what shelf it’s on. Or she will order it for you. Best of all; she will tell you what’s in it. She has probably memorized every book in the store.
Visit Community Book Center at 2523 Bayou Rd. or call them at 504-948-READ (7323). Let’s support our own. Don’t lose this wonderful Black Institution
Wow! That’s all I can say. I’ve been interviewed lots of times; but The Tribune's August cover story was definitely the best article about myself and the institution I lead. I really loved that you got a lot of insight from the student! That spoke to me because that is who I am as a president.
So thank you! I think it will be a great piece for Dillard University. Thanks for your work. You provided me with a great introduction to my new home community.
Dr. Walter Kimbrough, President