64-year-old Hakim’s Bookstore honored with Pennsylvania Historical Marker
A Pennsylvania Historical Marker was recently installed outside of Hakim’s Bookstore, the oldest operating Black-owned bookstore in the state and perhaps on the East Coast, according to the University City Historical Society which advocated for the marker in partnership with the Enterprise Center.
Founded in 1959 by Dawud Hakim, the bookstore has been at 210 South 52nd Street for over 60 years, providing books, education, and the space for Black learning and cultural exchange. A ceremony to dedicate the historical marker was held on September 23 at the bookstore.
“This was a great day. My family and I want to thank all who braved the wind and rain to be a part of our celebration,” Yvonne Blake, Dawud Hakim’s daughter who is now managing the business, posted on Facebook. “My father devoted his life to making a difference by educating and mentoring so many. While he is no longer here physically his spirit lives on in his bookstore and in our hearts.”
Hakim’s has been ground zero for Philadelphians to gain knowledge, grow a community, and find items that celebrate the beauty and diversity of the African diaspora. It has been on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement. Dawud Hakim was connected to national civil rights leaders like Dick Gregory and to local leaders such as Mumia Abu-Jamal. Hakim’s Bookstore was the target of J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO surveillance program that targeted places of Black identity out of unfounded fears of criminality and civil unrest.
University City Historical Society partnered with the Enterprise Center, which suggested a state historical marker for its longest running corridor business. UCHS began the task of researching and writing the nomination to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The marker was awarded in December 2022.