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The shelves of this community bookstore are filled with works where people can see themselves

Ujamaa shelves
Books on shelf
hip hop books
Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 17:45:45-05

INDIANAPOLIS — When the Indianapolis Public Library shuttered its Flanner House branch, it left behind a void.

“Our library that had been in the community for decades of most of us growing up, had been removed,” Hadiah Amit said. “So Ujamaa was born in order to fill a gap that had been left by the library leaving.

Helping customer
Hadiah Amit helps a customer at Ujamaa Community Bookstore.

Amit is the manager of Ujamaa Community Bookstore, which is part of the Flanner House organization. Named after the Fourth Pillar of Kwanzaa, Ujamaa means, “Cooperative Economics.”

“Our mission here is to provide resources and a place of peace, energy and gathering for our community,” Amit said. “And a way to keep resources in the community as opposed to it being shipped out.”

Ujamaa offers a diverse collection of programming and books.

Books on shelf

“We’re somewhere where people of color can see themselves,” Amit said. “In most places where people of color would like to go and be able to shop, there's not a lot of representation of us. So we're making sure that we're an entity that everyone can come to see themselves.”

Ujamaa has works from all kinds of genres. From poetry and vintage to Sci-Fi and even a specially curated collection celebrating 50 years of hip-hop music.

hip hop books

“We have lots of different genres of books for any interest that anyone would like to take advantage of, but done by people of color,” Amit said. “We are the only Black-owned Black-run bookstore in the city.”

Programming not found on shelves include classes focusing on astrology, yoga and even typewriting. All of it free of charge.

Amit invites everyone to see Ujamaa.

“They’ll love it,” Amit said.

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