Three generations of the Richardson and Johnson Families, representing the legacy and future of Marcus Books, met in the chambers of Mayor Ed Lee’s office on the morning of Feb. 13 as he signed-off on the Historic Landmark Designation for the property at 1712-1716 Fillmore St.
“It starts with having a heart,” said Lee of the preservation effort behind America’s oldest African American bookstore, formerly occupied by legendary jazz spot, Jimbo’s Bop City.
Community activists were successful at getting the attention of the Board of Supervisors and the Historic Preservation Commission, which ultimately landed the historic property designation on the mayor’s desk.
With the assistance of SF Heritage, SF Community Land Trust, Westside Community Services, and concerned citizens who spent hours prepping for meetings and presentations, the Jimbo’s Bop City/Marcus Books property will be placed permanently in the roll of historic San Francisco buildings.
Though the landmarking itself can hardly make up for the abomination of the city’s Western Addition Redevelopment plan, the signing represented good will on the part of the mayor’s office recommitting itself to the city’s African American and Japanese American communities, who hold the property’s past dear, and to the millions of visitors and San Franciscans who will enjoy the building’s jazz and literary history into the future.
“Thank all of you here today for helping us to ‘Keep it Lit’,” said the store’s co-owner, Greg Johnson.
“This day is bittersweet,” said Supervisor London Breed, perhaps as a nod to the Fillmore’s troubled past. But the Marcus Books support campaign continues to look toward the future, making progress through Black History Month, with the intention of keeping the bookstore standing strong in the Fillmore District.
On Saturday, Feb. 22, the store is hosting an all day read-a-thon featuring local authors.
In another boon to the effort to secure the building’s presence in the community, actor and activist Danny Glover flew into town on Saturday Feb.1, to visit the store, lending his support to the Keep It Lit campaign.
“Join the campaign to restore Marcus Books as a global community lighthouse and let its light shine over people around the world,” said Glover
For information, visit www.keepitlit.marcusbookstores.com/
or call Marcus Books at (415) 346 4222.