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Rose Cafe: A Black Owned Bookstore and Coffee South on Chicago's South Side

On May 31st, 2020, protests erupted around the country and world in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. The next morning, the community came together to clean up the streets. And that is when Iesha Malone noticed that her community was missing something, and began working with her friend and fellow teacher Rebecca Silverman. What was missing? A place to read. A place for healthy conversation. A place to empower local voices. A place to highlight the beauty of the community, and not the negativity. This place was missing from the community - until now!

Last year, Rose Cafe passed out over 3,000 books to the Roseland community in Chicago. These included books donated from Bernie's Book Bank as well as friends, family, and people all over the city wanting to help. Once they open, they will sell new books, used books, and have a free book exchange program. They will also have events in person, where they will host authors, artists, and entrepreneurs. They have hosted virtual book talks and book clubs to foster healthy discussions. They are partnering with local businesses - such as barbershops -to include books for clients to read.

My favorite book is Wonder by RJ Palacio. It impacted my teaching. It showed me I'm responsible for setting a culture where everyone feels safe and welcomed. (Iesha Malone)
Charlotte's Web was the first book I remember reading on my own and it began my love of reading. (Rebecca Silverman)

They hope to open the café in Summer 2021. It will be a space for community members to read, work, and collaborate. They will serve a dual purpose be there for the people that want them and spark a love for learning and inspiration for the future for the people that need them. As sales increase with customers in person and online, they hope to donate as many books to people in the community as they can - continuing the cycle to overcome book access.

For more information on Rose Cafe, visit Rose Cafe. For media coverage, click here. To donate, click here.

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