“Fighting for the soul of this city” — Save Marcus Bookstore!

Marcus Books owner Karen Johnson and her daughter Tamiko Johnson in front of their store. (Sara Bloomberg/KQED)

An important opportunity to help save the longtime Fillmore Street home of Marcus Books, the historic African-American family-owned bookstore in the lavender Victorian!

WHAT: Fundraiser and book reading of New Orleans Suite: Culture and Music in Transition
WHO: Supporters of Marcus Books, the Johnsons, the community
WHERE: Marcus Book Store, 1712 Fillmore Street, San Francisco.
WHEN: Sunday, December 22nd at 3pm.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – On Sunday, December 22nd at 3pm, the Support Marcus Books Campaign will begin their fundraising drive to help purchase the Victorian. Authors Lewis Watts, co-author of Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era, and Eric Porter will be holding a book reading of their most recent collaboration celebrating the ultimate jazz city: New Orleans Suite: Music and Culture in Transition.

Last month, the Johnson family (proprietors of Marcus Book Store) announced a settlement had been reached with the Sweis family (investors who had purchased the property) to provide the San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) an opportunity to purchase the historic Jimbo’s Bop City building where Marcus Books resides. However, the settlement amount still leaves a $1 million dollar gap.

“We’ve done so much to get to where we are,”says Denise Sullivan, local author and longtime supporter, ”We have protested, passed a city resolution, and initiated landmark status. We’re determined to get back the building and keep the bookstore here.”

Following the sale of 1712-1716 Fillmore St. at auction in April of this year, supporters of Marcus Books with the assistance of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) held multiple actions to pressure the investor and worked to bring to light the potential loss to community and culture the absence of the bookstore would create. As a result, efforts by Supervisor London Breed, the Board of Supervisors as well as the Historic Preservation Commission passed unanimous resolutions to preserve the store, resulting in historic landmark designation for the building.

In an effort to help purchase the Marcus Books/Jimbo’s Bop City building, it was announced that Westside Community Services, a community based non-profit has offered a One Million Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollar ($1,650,000) loan to help finance the Two Million Six Hundred Thousand Dollar ($2,600,000) acquisition. The group hopes to also use a new and innovative real estate crowd-investing platform called “Fundrise.com,” a program that will be managed and lead by SFCLT. The program will be accepting money from accredited investors to raise the additional One Million ($1,000,000) needed to purchase the property. SFCLT has agreed to complete the purchase by February 28th, 2014. If they do not, Marcus Book Store has agreed to vacate the premises.

“People are fighting for the soul of this city: a stop to the displacement of long time businesses, homeowners, tenants, and people of color,” says Gail Meadows, principal of Meadows-Livingston School and supporter of the bookstore, “We have an opportunity to win this building back, keep a black bookstore in a Victorian that was saved from the last sweep of gentrification.”

CONTACT: Grace Martinez 415-377-6872 // [email protected]

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