Marc Lamont Hill, a noted figure in academia and on the media circuit, will become a businessman with the launch on Monday of his new coffee shop and bookstore in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Tribune reported
“Coffee is a booming industry even if books are tougher. I developed a business model that presumes that Black people do read, that Black people will support a Black business but also that is tapped into a booming coffee market. Coffee is another thing that brings people together,” he said, commenting on his business plan.
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books, which Hill, 38, spent approximately $250,000 to transformed from a daycare center, is in Philly’s Germantown neighborhood and named for his uncle, Bobbie Lee Hill. The professor recalled that his uncle, who died in 1994, introduced him to a wide range of Black literature and magazines that he didn’t encounter in school—all the while stimulating his nephew’s young mind about issues on race. His uncle’s home “was the first place that kind of opened up to me the idea of literacy being an expression of who we are as Black people,” the social commentator told the news outlet.
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Another motive behind going into this business is to add to the dwindling number of Black-owned bookstores across the nation. Their numbers are declining—now at fewer than 60—even though there’s a resurgence of independent booksellers, according to Publishers Weekly. Hill lamented that only several dozen Black-owned bookstore remain out of the hundreds that once existed. He hopes that Uncle Bobbie’s contributes to reversing that trend. In addition to serving coffee and offering some of the best book titles, Hill plans also to host free author reading, youth poetry slams and film screenings.