The historic Anacostia neighborhood in southeast D.C. become that much richer recently with the opening of the area’s first bookstore in over 20 years.
MahoganyBooks, located at 1231 Good Hope Road inside of D.C.’s last predominantly Black frontier, held a special grand opening last month, featuring over a thousand books created for and by people of African descent.
“We want to be pioneers in bringing people proper access to books from an African-American perspective,” said Ramunda Young, who co-owns the story with husband Derrick. “We have books in this story that many customers say that they haven’t seen in years and we are so proud to be able to bring a treasure like this to the Anacostia area.”
Though the Anacostia neighborhood has been predominantly Black since the mid-1900s, the once-prosperous area now faces widespread gentrification and a poverty rate three times higher than the rest of the city, ultimately contributing to lower literacy rates in the area for Black children.
The store was initially created in 2007 as an online store, but the owners now aim to make the brick-and-mortar location a go-to place for literacy and technological experiences as well.
“We took what we learned from other bookstores and applied them to what we have now,” Derrick said. “In addition to selling books, we also want to integrate technology. We want to create a literacy experience where we use technology to reach people in different parts of the country and the world. Last week, we had a poetry event that we showcased online and we also plan on having workshops.”
MahoganyBooks, which was recognized in 2014 by emPower magazine for their efforts to promote literature, has also garnered the support of notable literary organizations in the D.C. area such as Go on Girl! Book Club and the Hurston Wright Foundation.
“Mainstream media can oftentimes portray the idea that Black and brown children don’t enjoy reading books, but I know firsthand that is not true,” Ramunda said. “We are proud of our history and achievements and we want our children to be, too, that’s why in addition to Black literature, we also sell Latina-focused books, Native American and Asian.”