Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A Day of Service and an Evening At Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books

Today was another wonderful tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

For Day of Service, on what would have been the slain leader’s 89th birthday, I headed to Uhuru Furniture to hear about their visions and bask in the glowing “uhuru” spirit (Swahili for freedom, independence). They shared videos about the civil rights movement, featured spoken word poetry, a remarkable keynote by Ticharwa Masimba from ADEDF St. Louis on the Black Power Blueprint Project, allowed volunteers to discuss why they came out via an open mic segment, and took a group photo of us outside. We then broke down into various groups (some walking others driving), each participant carrying 200 door fliers to hang in various neighborhoods to let people know about Uhuru Furniture– an organization as well as furniture store.

At lunch, they announced handing out 4,000+ fliers (almost reaching their goal of 5,000), raised over $600, and handed out prizes like gift certificates, posters, and artworks via raffle drawing.

I finally stopped by Marc Lamont Hill owned Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books Shop in Germantown, blocks away from the Nile Café. It was a lovely dedication to the written word that contained some of the most conscious authors/activists/biographies of past and present from Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and Ta-Nehisi Coates to fictional greats Zora Neale Hurston, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and so much more. There are t-shirts that ask people to “read more and talk less.” There is one that says “writer.” Poetry by Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Ntozake Shange, and Tyhembia Jess. Theory by bell hooks. Economics, history, gender and queer studies, cookbooks, art, and relationship advice are other topics that fill the laid back space. Eyes will water on the displays about Emmitt Till and prison culture.
The décor is straight up vintage– sewing machines and irons that entail seamstresses and domestic employ, Mammy figures of disturbing principles, globes, trunks, and suitcases of migrant travels from South to North, typewriters that make one think of James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry.

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