Former President Barack Obama helped The Lit.Bar celebrate their second anniversary and National Independent Bookstore Day on Friday (April 23). The Lit. Bar is a Black woman-owned independent bookstore located in The Bronx, NYC and was founded by Bronx native Noëlle Santos. The store opened its doors on April 27, 2019, which is also National Indie Bookstore Day.
“Our forever President @barackobama made virtual visit to The Lit. Bar to help us bring in our 2nd birthday and National Independent Bookstore Day the right way. He took us from The Bronx to the ‘Promised Land’,” an Instagram post caption said.
During his virtual visit, Obama thanked Santos for her work and for “selling knowledge," and congratulated her on being in the independent bookstore business.
“Thank you for being such a grand champion for literature and for indie bookstores,” Santos said.
Obama said that in the early 90s when he brought out Dreams From My Father, it was independent bookstores that opened their doors for readings and events for his book.
“Ten people would come to a reading. But you don’t forget that,” Obama said. “What you do is you nourish a community and the people that come to your bookstore, they discover voices they wouldn’t hear before, and you can’t replace that,” he said.
Santos shared the store, like many small businesses, had to get creative during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were only 10 months old when we had to shut everything down,” she said. The store is also a wine bar, and they had to pivot to accommodate retail restrictions implemented around the city and state. “It was very challenging, but we are so so well supported by our community in the South Bronx, and we did not skip a beat. We are in a better position now than we were before the pandemic,” the founder shared.
Obama did a short Q & A session on his best-selling book, The Promised Land, and his drink of choice for his future visit to the store.
Check out the full interview here.
Photos: Getty Images