Marcus Books is coming back to San Francisco

by Amber R. Murray

Marcus-Book-Store-1712-Fillmore-St.-San-Francisco-web-300x200, Marcus Books is coming back to San Francisco, Local News & Views
Black San Franciscans will never forget this old Marcus Book Store, an official historic landmark, at 1712 Fillmore St., its home for 33 years. The graceful old Victorian had previously been home to Jimbo’s Bop City jazz club back when the Fillmore District was known worldwide as Harlem of the West and had been saved from Redevelopment bulldozers when the district was destroyed.

We are pleased to announce an event on Aug. 16, 2016, to celebrate the union of Marcus Books and the African American Arts and Culture Complex (AAACC) in the Fillmore District of San Francisco. Over the past few months, Marcus Books and the African American Arts and Culture Complex have been collaborating on the details of their new partnership which will manifest as a bookstore within the first floor lobby of the complex.

The event, to be held Tuesday, Aug. 16, 6-9 p.m., on the first floor of the AAACC, 762 Fulton St., San Francisco, is meant to share the exciting plans with the community through an immersive full-scale prototype of the proposed design, architectural renderings and talks with Mohammed Soriano-Bilal, director of the AAACC, and Karen Johnson, co-owner of Marcus Books. Attendees of the event will learn more about future programs, listen to vinyl records from Jess Cross of Cross Colours and enjoy some refreshments.

About the Marcus Book Stores

Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson, two seriously committed community activists and avid readers, scholars and SF State professors, opened The Success Book Co. in the front of their print shop on Fillmore Street in San Francisco in 1960. Their store supplied books by and about Black people from throughout the world and time.

After reading “The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey,” the Richardsons renamed the store Marcus Books, and another store was opened in Oakland. The Marcus Book Stores have hosted more major Black writers than the entire Harlem Renaissance, which gives evidence of the increase in Black authorship. The stores also provide a showcase for many fledgling writers.

The San Francisco store moved seven times and the Oakland twice in their 56 years of bookselling, and the new location in the African American Arts and Culture Complex bears further witness to the resilience of their spirit.

Marcus-Books-owners-Tamiko-Gregory-Karen-Johnson-Raye-Blanche-Richardson-in-Fillmore-store-200x300, Marcus Books is coming back to San Francisco, Local News & Views
In the grand old Marcus Book Store are the family owners: Tamiko, Gregory and Karen Johnson, co-founder Dr. Raye Richardson and Blanche Richardson, who runs the Oakland store. Karen and Blanche are the daughters of Marcus Books founders Drs. Raye and Julian Richardson.
BMAN-’14-Karen-Greg-Johnson-091314-by-TaSin-web-cropped-256x300, Marcus Books is coming back to San Francisco, Local News & Views
In accepting their award at the Bay View’s Black Media Appreciation Night 2014, Greg Johnson told the sad story of the beautiful Marcus Book Store, where they lived upstairs and housed thousands of great books downstairs, being caught up in the foreclosure epidemic that stole half of Black folks’ wealth. After a long battle, they were finally evicted, and the community has been mourning ever since. Now we can celebrate! – Photo: TaSin Sabir

About the African American Arts and Culture Complex (AAACC)

The AAACC is a community based, 501(c)3 arts and cultural organization whose mission is to empower the community through Afrocentric education via programs of artistic and cultural expression and a broad range of mediums.

For decades, the complex has been dedicated to inspire children and youth to serve as agents of change by cultivating their leadership skills and fostering a commitment to community service and activism. The AAACC encourages, supports and promotes the work of young, aspiring African American artists. The complex strives to develop partnerships with like-minded, committed organizations and offers space to the community for special events.

Four interaction-design graduate students from California College of the Arts have generously contributed their time and talents in facilitating the Marcus Books-AAACC collaboration. Amber R. Murray, master of design candidate, is one of them. Email her at and visit her at