New Beacon Books: Crowdfunder sets out to save UK’s first black bookstore

“For New Beacon Books to do this, it must be able to make full use of its existing space and, if necessary, relocate to premises that will allow the expansion of its publishing and public affairs programs as well as the sale of books. “

They added, “New Beacon Books is extremely encouraged by the community’s response to their needs and their willingness to
donate funds to allow New Beacon Books to survive and grow.

The store has been located on Stroud Green Road since 1975, having opened at the home of La Rose and White.

La Rose, a political activist in Trinidad before moving to the UK in 1961, wanted to create a vehicle for artists to produce works on their own culture, history and politics. They started by selling books in trash bags on the streets, but as demand grew, the couple took care of the empty store nearby.

As the only outlet for black literature and one of the only places young black writers could have their work published, New Beacon quickly became a catalyst for groups such as the Caribbean Artist Movement and the Black Parents Movement, which campaigned against racist police brutality. He was also at the center of the Black Education Movement and the Black Supplementary School Movement.

Recognized Caribbean writers, including Mervyn Morris, Sir Wilson Harris, CLR James, and John Jacob Thomas, have all published work through New Beacon Books. The store has been the center of many political and social campaigns over the decades and people from all over the world have donated to a campaign to save it from closing four years ago.

John La Rose with students from a complementary school. Image: George Padmore Institute

John La Rose, who died in 2006 at the age of 78, was instrumental in organizing protests following the New Cross house fire in 1981 that killed 13 black youths.

In 1982, New Beacon Books and its partner organizations founded the annual Radical Black and Third World Books International Book Fair, at a time when educational service providers and the general public struggled to find books and other materials. educational resources from black authors.

La Rose also contributed to the establishment of the European Action for Racial Equality and Social Justice in the 1990s, bringing together anti-racists and anti-fascists from Belgium, Italy, France and Germany to fight against the rise of fascism.

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In 1991, he and his colleagues founded the George Padmore Institute (GPI), a library, archives and educational research center above New Beacon Books which houses documents relating to the experiences of Caribbean, African and Asian communities in Britain. The GPI is the owner of New Beacon Books and is not in danger of closure.

Trustees said New Beacon Books will establish a New Beacon Development Fund (NBDF) to oversee the money raised by the crowdfunder, and that it will be made up mostly of supporters. A portion of the funds will also help the store meet urgent financial needs.

They also said they may look to find larger premises to accommodate publishing, book sales, writers in residence, public programs and community events. An organizing committee for events and public programs will also be created.

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About Stuart M. McFarland

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