The bookstore’s founders, Drs. Raye and Julian Richardson met at Tuskegee University which they both attended. In 1946 Julian started Success Printing Co. in the Fillmore District of San Francisco and in 1960, the two founded Marcus Books (named after political activist and author Marcus Garvey). Together — and through both the publishing press and bookstore — they fiercely advocated for Black history, exchange, and knowledge of self. They published now canonical books (that had before their resurrection gone out of print) and work by independent authors, poets, and artists. Marcus Books is an institution where those who have written books, produced visual work and more can see themselves on a shelf, wall or counter surrounded by other Black makers.
60 years since its opening, the bookstore has become a literary and cultural hallmark that has hosted iconic authors including Toni Morrison, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Walter Mosley, Angela Davis, Terry McMillan, Chaka Khan, Michael Eric Dyson, Iyanla Vanzant, Sister Souljah, Nikki Giovanni, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patti LaBelle and so many more of our treasured voices. Just as important are the bookclubs, intimate poetry readings, and countless customer conversations that unfold at Marcus.