1 june 1968 & drum & spear bookstore officially opens
#OTD 1 June 1968 Drum and Spear Bookstore (2701 14th St NW) officially opened. Drum & Spear was founded by Charlie Cobb, Courtland Cox, Tony Gittens, Judy Richardson, among others and administered through Afro-American Resources, Inc. It was one of the first bookstores to open in the late 1960s, carrying books by and for blacks folks, and other people of color. Drum & Spear quickly became a central institution and gathering space for Washingtonians. Most of the founders and workers were SNCC members, who became active in Black Power and Pan-Africanism. They saw the bookstore as a way to continue to organize and work toward liberation.
Look carefully at the photograph. You can see "Soul in DC" and "Soul Brother" written on the bottom of the building.
Stay tuned for more on the bookstore and Drum & Spear Press.
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? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy of Holloway/Crazy Horse Collection. Photographer unknown. June 1969. I am grateful to Camara Dia Holloway for sharing her parents' photographs.
Big thank you to Charlie Cobb, Courtland Cox, Tony Gittens and Judy Richardson for speaking with me about Drum & Spear.
Brian Gilmore, "Drum and Spear Bookstore," Beltway Quarterly
Joshua Clark Davis, From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs (2017). I am grateful to Josh for connecting me with the founders and sharing his research on Drum & Spear, including FBI files obtained via FOIA.
Joshua Clark Davis, "Black Owned Bookstores: Anchors of the Black Power Movement," AAIHS 28 January 2017.
Seth Markle, A Motorcycle on Hell Run: Tanzania, Black Power and the Uncertain Future of Pan-Africanism, 1964-1974 (2017). I am grateful to Seth for our email conversations and for connecting me to other sources.
Kojo Nnamdi show on Drum & Spear, May 2018. Kojo Nnamdi also worked at Drum & Spear.
Adrienne Manns, "Ghetto Bookstore Finds Untapped Negro Mart," Washington Post 27 August 1968. Is this the same Adrienne Manns who was at HU?
"The Drum & Spear Bookstore Features Afro-American Books," Hilltop 20 September 1968.