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Black English Bookstore


401 E Oak Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33602

What are the 3 adjectives you would use to describe your bookstore?

Woke AF 
Blackest of Black Culture 
Connector of Community

Share a quote from a book or poem that bares your bookstore’s soul.

If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?

James Baldwin (The root of the store name comes from his July 29, 1979 essay published in the New York Times) 

Why was your bookstore founded/what role does it play in the community?

Black English Bookstore is a women-owned and independently operated bookshop that caters to readers of all ages while elevating black-authored books. Our mission is to promote the reading culture. In addition to fostering curiosity, we gift young readers with books through sponsorship, ighlight HBCU alumni authors, and proudly liberate banned titles by groups and individuals who feel uncomfortable with the power of words, knowledge, and truth for themselves and others.

  • Founder Gwendolyn Henderson is committed to restoring a black-owned bookstore to the inner city of Tampa. By carefully curating reading options representing extraordinary voices, she has elevated a distinct culture and community, while adding Tampa to the 6% of independent bookstores owned by blacks in America.
  • A bookstore that primarily sells books written by writers who pen a language, from plain to proper, that can be identified and classified as Black English by its patrons, friends, neighbors, and the curious.

Which champion/warrior/wildcat (real or mythological) does your bookstore channel most?

Sam Hightower (1860-1932) my great-great grandfather is my champion.  He was born in bondage and with that denied literacy. I will read for him and sell books in his honor.

Bookstore Quote:

Books are meat and medicine and flame and flight and flower steel, stitch, cloud and clout, and drumbeats on the air.

Gwendolyn Brooks

What makes your bookstore unique?

There is a strong focus on HBCU Authors (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and is the only predominately black authored brick-and-mortar bookstore in the Tampa, Florida.

What is something that no one knows about your bookstore?

The bookstore owner is a member of Tampa City Council and 30-year educator who taught entrepreneurship at her high school alma mater. The bookstore was created by the owner using the NFTE curriculum (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) and Lean Canvas model. Henderson developed and pitched the bookstore to a tough classroom audience who gave it the thumbs up!

Image description: A multi-textured blue background, including textures and words from book pages.