30 december 1968 & drum & spear book store 2
#OTD 30 December 1968 Drum & Spear Book Store (2701 14th St NW) had been open ~ six months. Charlie Cobb opened the store, which he funded and operated through Afro-American Resources, Inc. Courtland Cox, Ivanhoe Donaldson, Don Freeman, Tony Gittens and Marvin Holloway were early members of Afro-American Resources, Inc. Tony Gittens was the store’s first manager. Judy Richardson worked closely with Gittens to make the store operational.
By September, Drum & Spear had ~800 titles and 5,000 books in the store. The majority of the books were by and about blacks in the U.S. There were also books about the diaspora, as well as books about Asians, Latinx and Palestinians. Besides English-language books, there were also books in Arabic, French, Spanish and Swahili.
The best-selling book was The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley.
Other popular book titles were:
100 Years of Lynching, Ralph Ginzburg
Before the Mayflower, Lerone Bennett
Cane, Jean Toomer
Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race, Edward Wilmot Blyden
Nature Knows No Color Line, J. A. Rogers
The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Amy Jacques Garvey, ed.
Pimp, Iceberg Slim
The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon
Drum and Spear Press opened c1969. The first publication was C.L.R. James’ A History of Pan-African Revolt. Other popular publications include Enemy of the Sun: Poems of Palestinian Resistance and Eloise Greenfield’s Bubbles.
Your comments are welcome below. Do you, a family member or neighbor remember Drum & Spear? Did you buy books from there and/or hangout there? Do you still have those books? Did you work at Drum & Spear? Do you remember Drum & Spear ads in your yearbook? Do you remember Drum & Spear Press? Do you have a pin-back button? Do you have a poster you bought from there? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy of Holloway/Crazy Horse Collection. Photographer unknown. c1969. I am grateful to Camara Dia Holloway for sharing her parents' photographs.
Big thank you to Courtland Cox, Tony Gittens and Judy Richardson for allowing me and Kiyem Ali to interview them on 8 November 2018. Big thank you to Kiyem Ali for being the videographer.
Adrienne Manns, "Ghetto Bookstore Finds Untapped Negro Mart," Washington Post 27 August 1968.
"The Drum & Spear Bookstore Features Afro-American Books," Hilltop 20 September 1968.
”Drum & Spear Books Founded,” SNCC Digital Gateway