BROOKLYN — Brooklyn-born hip-hop artist Talib Kweli, a co-owner of one of the borough’s longest standing black bookstores, has reopened the shop — online only for now, he said.
In 1997, Kweli, a Nkiru employee at the time, bought out the shop with his friend and fellow artist Mos Def (known now as Yasiin Bey) and kept it running as an educational center, he said in an Instagram post last week.
Now, Kweli said in the post, he plans to “reignite” Nkiru Books online, using his own website, kweliclub.com, to support the brand. He said he wants to keep the store alive in part because “our community continues to need multicultural education.”
“Now in 2015/16 you would be hard pressed to find a bookstore that is not dominated by Eurocentric ideals about what is important culturally and historically,” he wrote.
In 1997 myself & my partner in rhyme Mos Def AKA Yasiin Bey poured our rap money into Nkiru Books, Brooklyn's first black bookstore, where I was also an employee at the time of Black Star's release. Our community continues to need multicultural education and even though we weren't able to save Nkiru's location, we were able to hell it's legacy thrive. Now in 2015/16 you would be hard pressed to find a bookstore that is not dominated by Eurocentric ideals about what is important culturally and historically. It is because of that I've decided to reignite Nkiru Books online. I've started modestly, for now it's a part of my online store Kweliclub.com but I had to start somewhere! If literature, education, history and culture are important to you, please visit the Nkiru Books section of Kweliclub.com. Right now we have books that I've hand selected, but we hope to expand and have as many titles as possible. Soon. I promise however, we currently have something for everybody. One love!
The online shop has dozens of titles in 13 categories including “Caribbean Studies,” spirituality and humor. Many books have already sold out, including an autobiography of Miles Davis, "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, "The Souls of Black Folk" by W.E.B DuBois and “The Klu Klux Spirt” by J.A. Rogers.
Nkiru Books was most recently located in a storefront at 732 Washington Ave. before closing in the early 2000s. The former bookstore location is now a coffee shop.