The owner claims the shop is one of the first black-owned bookstore coffee shops in the city.
DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — During the thick of the civil unrest this summer, a Harrisburg man saw the outcry for more black businesses and decided to do something about it.
Stefan Hawkins, 31, wanted to open a business that could make the city feel proud. His fondness for books and coffee was a perfect start. So, he thought why not a coffee book shop?
However, Hawkins did not want his shop to be like others in the area. He decided to structure this shop around a need in the community. This need being the lack of black youth exposure to diverse books and authors.
Hawkins is now the owner of Good Brotha’s Book Cafe, which opened on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day. He claims the shop is one of the first black-owned bookstore coffee shops in the city.
The good brother himself says this representation is key.
“If these last of a couple of months haven’t taught us anything, it’s about representation mattering. Black Lives mattering and also accepting what we bring to the table as Black Americans,” said Hawkins. “Our literature, our dance moves, our music. We bring a lot to society.”
The cafe is an extension of his book club — that has the same name — created by him and his friends. The club combats against the stigma that black men do not enjoy reading.
Hawkins says the coffee book shop has a modern collection of books including the works of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Colson Whitehead and Brit Bennett, among others.
He says he selects books that focus on topics that people are more interested in being educated about since the recent racial reckoning.
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He also wants to give up-and-coming authors who do not have major publishing deals a chance to be placed on his shelves.
“Hey, if you wrote a good book, let me have it, let me get on this shelf, let’s see if people might be interested,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins says it’s essential for his cafe to have a wall of books and not just a section like retailers. Black representation is critical for a more inclusive society, according to Hawkins.
“We’re not just, you know, the streets that they associate us with,” said Hawkins. “We do like to read. We do like coffee. We do like to see ourselves on books.
You can grab some coffee and read a book in the cafe Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m and on Saturday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. The shop is closed on Sundays.