Marcus Books approaching landmark status as fundraising continues


It may be a long shot, but there is still time.

Marcus Books, which faces eviction from its Fillmore Street location, seeks to raise $1 million to remain in Jimbo’s Bop City building, the violet-colored Victorian it has operated out of since 1981. If Marcus Books succeeds in its fundraising endeavor, the building will be turned over to the San Francisco Land Trust and the bookstore will remain as a tenant in perpetuity.

Its fundraising campaign is titled Keep It Lit, and co-owners Karen Johnson and Tomiko Johnson have framed it this way: If 50,000 supporters donated $20 apiece, the bookstore could hit its goal by the fast-approaching Feb. 28 deadline. So far, the fundraising website reflects an amount of $5,660 raised so far.

Marcus Books has been doing business for 54 years and is the nation’s oldest continuously operating black-owned, black-themed bookstore.

Today the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to approve historic landmark designation for the bookstore’s Fillmore Street address, on account of “its long-term association with Marcus Books … and for its association with Jimbo’s Bop City, one of the City’s most famous, innovative and progressive jazz clubs.”

The memory of Jimbo’s lives on, as it hosted the likes of John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and other jazz greats for after-hours jam sessions.

The Board of Supes’ ordinance also highlights the contributions of Julian and Raye Richardson, Karen Johnson’s parents and the founders of Marcus Books, “who for many years served the city’s rapidly expanding Black community in a myriad of ways, from small-scale publishing and book-selling to academic instruction and mentorship.”