On Sunday, June 16, 2013, forty supporters of the oldest black bookstore in the U.S. went to church to pray that speculators who purchased the building at a foreclosure auction will sell it to a non-profit investment group at a small profit so that the bookstore can remain open in San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood. The new owners have ordered an eviction of the bookstore and residents of the building for as soon as June 18, 2013.
About twenty supporters entered the church mass at 11:00am at St. Nicholas Church, 5200 Diamond Heights Blvd (between Duncan Street and Safira Lane) to pray for the bookstore. One of the new property owners is a deacon at the church. The bookstore’s supporters silently held images of St. Nicholas that stated “Pray the Sweis’ Do the Right Thing: Save Marcus Books” during the service, while the rest of those attending stood outside the church handing flyers the congregation.
- KGO video and article: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=9134353
- History of Marcus Bookstore: http://www.marcusbookstores.com/history.html
Founded in 1960, in a building that once housed the jazz club Jimbo’s Bop City and was saved from the redevelopment bulldozers in the Fillmore neighborhood, Marcus Bookstore has long served the African-American community in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bookstore owners and building residents Gregory and Karen Johnson took out a loan in 2006 to pay expenses. During the economic downturn, payments on their predatory loan ballooned to more than $10,000 a month. Then came bankruptcy and eventually a bank foreclosure auction that sold the property to speculators.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, Westside Community Services has offered to pay the new owners, Nishan and Suhaila Sweis of South San Francisco, $1.64 million for the building, which would be a profit of $50,000 or 3 percent, but the Sweises are apparently holding out for $3.2 million.
A number of organizations and individuals have declared their support of Marcus Bookstore, including Westside Community Services, Supervisor London Breed, NAACP, John Coltrane Church, Code Pink, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and others.
ACCE is the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and is a network of dozens of community based organizations across California working in 14 different Counties to raise the voice of low income, immigrant and working families across the state for better jobs, schools, healthcare and housing. In San Francisco, ACCE Chapters work in the city’s lowest income communities to bring accountable and transparent investment back to their communities to achieve these goals. For more information visit www.calorganize.org.