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New Beacon Books reopens after being saved by fans

Iconic black literature store that opened in 1966 has undergone a complete transformation following social media and fundraising campaigns

11 August, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Renaldo La Rose outside New Beacon Books in Finsbury Park

NEW Beacon Books, the iconic black bookshop in Finsbury Park threatened with closure last year, reopens tomorrow (Saturday) following a volunteer-powered refurbishment.

The Stroud Green Road shop, which opened in 1966, has undergone a complete transformation following a fundraising campaign which brought in more than £11,000. Hundreds donated online when news of its impending closure spread.

Co-founder Sarah White announced last year that it would cease its retail operation after years of dwindling sales. But thanks to a social media effort led by founder John La Rose’s grandson Renaldo and his wife Vanessa, the shop now has had a facelift and a bright future.

Bookshop director Janice Durham said: “It’s going to be lovely. We’ve done a lot of work – mostly by the family and volunteers. It’s been a wonderful experience but stressful as well.”

She added: “It’s exciting. It feels positive that the community wants us to continue.”

New Beacon was founded in 1966 by Mr La Rose, a poet, essayist, political activist and publisher, and his partner Ms White. For decades it had a publishing arm specialising in black British, Caribbean, African, African-American and Asian literature.

With roots in the anti-colonial movement, it helped power the civil rights struggle in Britain, thanks to its pioneering publishing arm and historic initiatives such as the Caribbean Artists Movement.

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