London’s first black-owned bookstore closed after 55 years, leaving customers heartbroken

Loyal customers have been shattered after London’s first black-owned bookstore announced it would close.

New Beacon Books opened in 1966 in Finsbury Park by poet John La Rose and partner Sarah White to ensure representation of literature from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, African America, Europe, South America and Black Britain.

The business, which is also a publishing house, has struggled financially – which has forced the owners to make the difficult decision.

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After the closure announcement, which revealed that it would only move to online, people shared their dismay over the news.

A Twitter user said, “This is a special place. Please share to raise awareness and let’s try to prevent newbeaconbooks from closing!”

Another added, “Oh no, it breaks my heart, I loved working with them. Thank you for making us aware. Is there anything we do to help?”

The bookstore on Stroud Green Road was opened after John’s own experience in the Caribbean and South America.

According to the New Beacon Catalog: “Growing up in a colonial society made John La Rose very aware that colonial politics was based on a conscious retention of information from generation to generation.

Founder of the book industry, John La Rose
Founder of the book industry, John La Rose

“There was also discontinuity in information from generation to generation.

“Publishing was therefore a tool to provide an independent validation to one’s own culture, history, politics – a sense of self – and to break with discontinuity.”

John died in 2006 after a life of campaigning – during this time he was a prominent part of the Black Parents Movement in 1975, which was formed after a black schoolboy was assaulted by police in Haringey.

In 2016, 50 years after opening, the New Beacon Books store struggled to survive and had made the decision to shut down.

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But in early 2017, a group of volunteers struggled to keep it going, alongside this through social media campaigners, a crowdfunder managed to raise £ 12,500.

But five years later, the company is once again facing challenges.

Books and stock are currently being sold at a 25 percent discount – however, customers are hoping to gather to raise money.

The store is open Fridays and Saturdays from 12-18.

MyLondon has contacted New Beacon Books for comment.

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