Once on State Street and now in Bronzeville sixteen years later, the Afrocentric Bookstore has earned its rank as one of the city’s independent staples via product, persistence and dedication. “We’re seasoned,” professes owner Desiree Sanders. “There aren’t many bookstores on the South Side like this one.”
With its friendly apron-donning staff, vast selection, statuettes and décor, it’s no wonder best-selling authors like Yolanda Joe—”My Fine Lady”—frequent the scene. “She stops by … we have several books by her here,” Sanders says.
Successful as Sanders’ shop is, she doesn’t deny what got it there and she directs a lot of her focus to giving back to the community.
Last October, Sanders partnered with Literacy Links and fronted “Book It Black to Bronzeville,” a book festival “celebrating literature and emphasizing the importance of literacy for all Chicagoans.” Showcasing prolific local and national authors, the audience was treated to readings and signings by known writers like Roland Martin, executive editor of The Chicago Defender, and Chris Gardner, the accomplished African-American financial expert-advisor and author of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” recently adapted for the big screen starring Will Smith.
So what does the future for Afrocentric hold? “I’d like to grow a little bit,” says Sanders. “Maybe move to the South Loop and do some more non-profit work to promote literacy.”
She continues, “Bronzeville is coming back to what it was. Middle-class blacks are looking for goods and services, and I’m glad to have the means and the opportunity to provide that.”
Sanders promises that more events will take place, and she insists that people either stop in or call for details. We’ll see you there, Ms. Sanders. (Kevin Baum)
Afrocentric Bookstore, 4655 South King, (773)924-3966