New Beacon books is not your average bookshop. It is situated a few doors down from my flat in Finsbury Park in the heart of cosmopolitan London.
Just passing by, looking in the window is enough to catch the eye of any activist concerned with Black empowerment and engagement. The shop is quite literally littered with works of some of the most well known and prominent Black British, African, and European figures in history.
Black History Month seems an appropriate time to direct you here for what is a haven to any would be activist.
The shop is a reflection, celebration, and academic archive, an account of the many contributions that people of African and Caribbean descent have made to the UK and America.
Walking through the doors is like stepping back in time, but with an air of warm familiarity that is like hearing Sam Cooke croon “Change gonna come” or hearing the words of Martin Luther King’s ‘ I have a dream speech”
In a moment, you feel you are at home and at the beginning of a journey. Maya Angelou and Muhammad Ali smile down at you from the walls. Lining the shelves tempting you to drift away from your errands for more time than you ought to are the writings of some of the most highly regarded figures in Black history.
The difficulty is knowing where to start.
Aside from the more well- know figures in Black history, also located at New Beacon Books are texts about Black Europe and Asia, and Multi-Ethnic children’s books.
It was founded by a man who in his lifetime came to embody a unique blend of activism and political drive, writing poetry and one of the first studies of calypso music.
The late John La Rose, a Trinidadian and anti colonial activist was influenced by a wide range of political ideas from a young age and began New Beacon Books in 1966.
Rose also directed Mangrove Nine a forty minute documentary about the Mangrove Restaurant and the victory of Frank Critchlow and others who fought against Police brutality in the early 1970’s.
If you have not already done so it is worth making a trip to N4 to sample the many books that New Beacon Books has to offer.
By Richard Sudan