Books on race sell out as Americans work to learn more about racism, social justice

The racial and social reckoning sweeping the nation has raised the prominence of Juneteenth and what it signifies.

In the last week, books on race have dominated national best-seller lists. With traditional Juneteenth celebrations canceled because of COVID, activists say one of the best ways to commemorate the holiday is to educate yourself on the issues.

"After George Floyd was killed, the country was trying to understand how this tragedy could happen. They were also trying to understand why there was so much protest and unrest," said Marc Lamont Hill, owner of Uncle Bobbies Coffee and Books in Germantown.

In the days after Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, while unrest swept across the nation, a sort of awakening was happening in American homes.

Books about race have been flying off shelves.

"Now it seems like Americans are trying to understand a deeper story, they are trying to make sense of how we got here," said Hill. "That's a necessary first step to trying to heal the damage that's been done."

"When everything began to happen around the country, we saw our sales go up on our online store for books on race, books on the history of racism in America and books on how to deal with racial inequality in America," he said.
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After last year's event set a record for the biggest in the nation's, Philadelphia's upcoming Juneteenth celebration will have a much different look this year.

The uptick in interest comes as many Black Americans prepare to celebrate Juneteenth, which is on Friday. June 19 commemorates the day in 1865 when word finally reached slaves in deep Texas that they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became official.

While traditional celebrations, like parades and festivals, have been canceled, Hill says there is one important way you can celebrate.

"If we are going to serious about racial healing and racial justice, we need to buy books from authors of color and from bookstores that are owned by people of color," said Hill. "I think it's really important to put our money where our mouth is across the board."
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