Loving Room, Black-owned bookstore and ‘space of belonging’ focusing on Black culture, opens in Seattle

The 800-square-foot storefront, located at 1400 20th Ave. in the Central District, is also an events space and museum.

Seattle is now home to the Black-owned bookstore, Loving Room: Diaspora books & salon, which aims to be a cultural hub for the community.

“It had to be now or never,” said owner Kristina Clark in an interview with The Seattle Times. “I think I got to the point where I had to face the fact that, you know, it’s one thing to nurture this dream and to hold onto this dream, but without investing time, energy, effort and resources, that’s all it would be, which would be this dream and this hope.”

The 800-square-foot storefront is located at 1400 20th Ave. in the Central District and shares a building with the cooperative art gallery and event venue, Liink Project.

The new Seattle-based bookstore, Loving Room: Diaspora books & salon, aims to be a cultural hub for the community. (AdobeStock)

Speaking to NBC affiliate KING 5 over the summer, Clark said she’s been working on the concept for the past decade. “Before I was even a mother. This idea came to me when I was working at Garfield High School.”

Loving Room offers literature by Black and African writers for readers of all ages. It boasts titles by Toni Morrison, Octavia E. Butler, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou and “The 1619 Project Born on the Water” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson — but not all books are for sale, The Times reports. The space also doubles as a reading room, museum and events space.

Clark, who is also the curator of the bookstore, eventually wants the Loving Room to serve as a lending library and host of events for local writers, book clubs and film screenings.

She “aspires to cultivate a space for collective Black ancestral healing and transformation through a commitment to Black literature and African diasporic decolonial aesthetics,” Clark told KING 5.

The bookstore will also offer weekly “public programs” that will include a “children’s story hour, youth read-aloud, and young writers’ club, while our monthly offerings will consist of our teens’ book club, grown folks’ book club, poetry soirées, film screenings, and more,” Clark explained.

Her vision for Loving Room was birthed from the invaluable conversations that are typically had in one’s personal living room with family and friends. “I still felt that strong desire to create a space that’s really about celebrating Black people in the fullness of who we are — where we can engage with literatures and our histories, but not be policed for how we show up and how we do that,” Clark said to The Times.

After she quit her job as a family programs manager at Families of Color Seattle in June 2021, she began working on making her entrepreneurial dream a reality. She invested personal funds and raised more than $8,000 via GoFundMe to cover rent, installing shelving and expanding Loving Room’s book collection.

“At the end of the day, this is a project about love, and it’s about Black love specifically,” the single mother of two said, according to The Times.

It’s also about creating a legacy,” Clark told KING 5. “A lot of my motivation for piecing together this space of community —  this space of belonging  —  is something that I did not experience as a young person,” she said. “I want my children to know that and to feel seen, welcome, honored, safe and dignified.”

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