Sisters Uptown Bookstore nourishes minds, hearts and souls with African-American authors

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS – Growing up in the south, Janifer P. Wilson hasn’t seen anyone like him in any book.

“I grew up as a kid dreaming and trying to figure out, ‘So am I invisible? Who am I? Where do I fit in all of this?'” Wilson said. “It has always been in my soul to host, present and preserve the history of the African diaspora.”

In January 2000, Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center was born. How she learned to do it was not easy.

“I was going around the local bookstores, and I would sit at the feet of the owners to find out how they did it and I just asked them, how to start a bookstore where the premise is, most of the books are written by African American authors? ” Wilson said. “So I started off on the shoulders of people who were already in the book business.”

Working full time as a surgical assistant, she had to figure out how she was going to work full time, start a business and keep it afloat.

His daughter Kori Wilson, now in charge of operations, had just started high school when it opened.

“I know it’s his passion,” Wilson said. “So whether we were making hundreds of thousands of dollars or $ 2, she was there to make sure the space was open and available for the community.”

In 2007, they opened a cultural center. In addition to storytelling and music for children and the elderly, they brought in local artists, musicians, writers, monthly book clubs, and poetry readings.

But it was a struggle for many years, until the pandemic.

“Due, unfortunately, to COVID and what happened with Black Lives Matter, we were forced to realign ourselves to the novelty. What we did was quickly start an online business that thrived, but it took us 20 years to break even, ”Wilson says.

They got calls from all over the world, with people thirsty for books on black history and culture.

“The whole world saw it. We were getting calls from the UK, Australia, Europe. Do you ship books here? Wilson said. “Can you send information about the dark discord and the parallel of past and present authors? It was a universal awakening. And that’s why I’m grateful. These people all over the world have woken up.”

The bookstore has become a beacon of light where there is healing, education and enlightenment through literacy.

“We basically did it on people who really love literacy, love books, they love that this store has been around as long as it has been, and they make sure they find a way to support us. So it’s the supportive love of the people that started 20 years ago with this that we continue to exist, ”Wilson said.

Don’t miss more amazing stories in honor of Black History Month.

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