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Marcus Books launches ‘Keep It Lit’ campaign and vows to remain a lighthouse for our community

February 2, 2014

by Carlos Levexier

Marcus Book Store is in the midst of a grassroots campaign – from Jan. 20 to Feb. 20 – to raise a million dollars in 30 days. A lot of people have been working very hard for Marcus Books in San Francisco and their approach is to get institutional support. That is great, but personally I am committed to reaching out to the people directly.

Marcus Books Gregory & Karen Johnson, Julianne Malveaux, Carlos Levexier 123013, web
Marcus Books, the oldest Black book store in the U.S., must raise a million dollars this Black History Month to buy back its home, the historic Jimbo’s Bop City building, which the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in a unanimous vote, recently designated a historic landmark. “So far we’ve raised more than half of our goal, but we still need to raise a million dollars, and we’re calling on the community to donate $20 or more and then ask their friends and networks to do the same,” says Tamiko Johnson, who along with her parents, Greg and Karen Johnson, co-owns Marcus Books. Strategizing on the grassroots “Keep It Lit” campaign are the Johnsons with nationally renowned economist Julianne Malveaux and community activist Carlos Levexier.
You and other readers of the Bay View newspaper may know me from my previous advocacy at King Garvey Cooperative. I am back advocating for Marcus Book Store, another entity named after Marcus Garvey. Actually, it was Julian Richardson, the co-founder of Marcus Book Stores, who campaigned to have the housing complex named for Marcus Garvey; that is why they both have that name.

This campaign is really exciting. Some great people have been putting in work daily – Julian, Tracy, Grace, Rick, Karen, Kai and more – but a new cavalry has come onto the scene with a GRASSROOTS campaign called KEEP IT LIT! The term “Lit” denotes literature but also highlights Marcus Book Store’s function as a lighthouse to the community.

Marcus Books not only serves people who buy books but as a center of guidance for activists who are improving their own knowledge in order to serve the community themselves. And Marcus Books will be a lighthouse for years to come.

The Common Core Standards, for example, have been enacted by the states so now first graders all over the country have the same educational standards. This has only become the case in the last year or so. And our families have to know the significance of this.

Marcus Books will shine the light on those standards, which help families know what teachers are trying to achieve before the children get into the school. Shining this knowledge, or light, is essential if we want to help our families more successfully oversee the educational processes at their children’s schools. If our families know the standards, they no longer have to wait for the teacher to assign homework. If their child hasn’t yet met a standard for his or her grade, then they have homework.

Marcus Books not only serves people who buy books but as a center of guidance for activists who are improving their own knowledge in order to serve the community themselves. And Marcus Books will be a lighthouse for years to come.

Marcus Books will shine much further knowledge on family members who get involved in the KEEP IT LIT campaign and others as well. But for the next 30 days we would like everyone to memorize and repeat the mantra, “Please, donate $20 in your own name and HELP ten others do the same! Thank you.”

Because that doesn’t ask for $20, that asks for $220. Plus, if the 10 people who donate $20 do the same, they’ll raise $2,220 and then some. Ten people on fixed incomes have the capacity to donate $20 on the first of the month if it becomes their priority.

And if someone on a fixed income donates $20, that is as big a gift as a wealthy person contributing much more. So that $20 donation is appreciated very much and makes a huge impact in our campaign, particularly when this person activates other donors.

Check out the math. A community leader – an individual, a family, a church, a fraternity or sorority, a company or any other organization – who inspires 100 people to “donate $20 in their own name and help 10 others do the same” will raise $20,000. Fifty community leaders, each activating 100 people to “donate $20 in their own name and help 10 others do the same” will raise over $1,000,000.

Is 30 days long enough for a person to donate $20 and find 10 other people to do the same? Look at all the ways a person can make a $20 donation: 1) come to Marcus Books in person, 2) go to Marcusbookstores.com and click the donate button, 3) send a check to Marcus Books, 1712 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, or 4) call us at (415) 346-4222 with your credit card.

For the next 30 days we would like everyone to memorize and repeat the mantra, “Please, donate $20 in your own name and HELP ten others do the same! Thank you.”

Another thing that people might wonder about is whether we will need this help again. Upon repurchasing the building, we will expand the model to include a specialty coffee cafe. Some very successful young Black “foodies” will be at Marcus Books in the next 10 days implementing the vision of a coffee shop at the store and proclaiming their own involvement in it.

They include Keba Konte, owner of three businesses: The Guerilla Cafe on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, Chasing Lions Cafe in the new City College building on Phelan in San Francisco, and Red Bay Coffee, a coffee roasting company that imports beans from Africa and other parts of the world. Jay Foster, who owns Farmer Brown’s and is involved in other businesses as well, and Bryant Terry, celebrity chef and author of “Vegan Soul Kitchen” and an upcoming cookbook called “Afro-Vegan,” are also excited to get involved.

There are a lot of other exciting facets of the KEEP IT LIT Campaign, including music. On Sunday, the choir at St. Columba Church in Emeryville will be singing a videotaped rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” in conjunction with the Marcus Books KEEP IT LIT campaign! Look out for that!

Music will be played in front of the bookstore throughout the month by Maestro Curtis and his network of musicians. And there’s much more. It’s very exciting. The power is still in the people. Exercise your power. KEEP Marcus Books LIT!

Carlos Levexier can be reached at Marcus Book Store, (415) 346-4222, Globallos@gmail.com and MarcusBookStores.com. In addition to working at Marcus Book Store, Carlos is working to introduce a Super HERO League (Health, Education, Recreation and Opportunity) into the Bayview Superintendent’s Zone. He created a program for Charles Drew Academy first graders to achieve their Common Core Math Standards by participating in a wrestling program.

 

One thought on “Marcus Books launches ‘Keep It Lit’ campaign and vows to remain a lighthouse for our community

  1. Terrance Amen

    Marcus Book Store

    An institution of higher learning that needs to be supported. Lets not have this be another example of the lack of unity within our community. Lets show the power of our unity. If we don't support our institutions, who will?

    Black Unity means financial independence and happiness

    Reply

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