Harriett’s Bookshop, named for American abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman, celebrates women authors, women artists, and women activists. The shop is located at 258 E. Girard Ave, in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood.
The popular neighborhood shop stocks new and used books for readers of all ages by authors like Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston as well as by newer writers.
The store’s current lease runs out in July. Although owner Jeannine Cook could have renewed the lease for another two years, she’s decided to dream bigger — she’s raising money to buy her shop a building.
Arguably, it’s what Tubman herself would have wanted her to do.
“I do not want to be a slave nor a sharecropper,” Cook explains on her GoFundMe page. “As it stands, I am a modern day sharecropper bringing energy and investing money in a location that I cannot pass down to my children. But we can change that.”
The proposed location would include ample shelf space, private book nooks, indoor/outdoor green space, meeting rooms, and an apartment to house a visiting rotation of authors, artists, and activists.
So far, Cook has raised $157,000, of her $300,000 goal, from 2,500 donors.
Neighbors, customers and local businesses and nonprofits have donated to the building fund for a variety of reasons, but the messages of support they’ve posted on the store’s fundraising page all evidence a deep appreciation for what Harriet’s has brought to this Philadelphia neighborhood:
I donated to support legacy-building in the community. Permanent change requires permanent space.
We support Black business, Black thought, Black women, independent bookstores and Jeannine Cooke’s brilliance.
New Voices for Reproductive Justice believes in the power of Black women, femmes, girls and gender-expansive folx. We believe we must invest in those who specialize in the wholly impossible.
I’m donating because BLACK OWNED BOOKSTORES WILL ALWAYS MATTER.
As a bookish girl growing up in Virginia, Cook admired Harriett Tubman for her courage and her leadership. “Always remember,” Tubman once said, “ you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
With any luck, Cook will change the world by ensuring that a bookstore that celebrates women authors, women artists and women activities becomes a permanent part of Philadelphia’s cultural landscape.