James Fugate’s picks for books on race: ‘Four Hundred Souls,’ ‘America on Fire,’ and more

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“Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America” is one recommendation from James Fugate, co-owner of Eso Won Books. Image courtesy of nmaahc.si.edu.

Black-owned businesses saw a wave of customers following the murder of George Floyd and the protests sparked by his death. People wanted to put their money where their mouths were by supporting their neighbors of color. 

A year later, KCRW checks in with James Fugate, co-owner of Eso Won Books in Leimert Park, to see whether that support has held steady. His shop specializes in titles about race and works by Black authors.

“We have been in Leimert Park for 13 or 14 years. … We've done well. And certainly having books like President Obama's book, the First Lady, her book, and just a lot of other books in just the last few years have really, really helped us. But nothing like what happened after the murder of George Floyd,” he says. 

He says after Floyd’s death, Black bookstores all over LA and the country saw a big upswing in business. “Because people said, ‘Wait a minute. Enough. We do want to support these types of stores because we've been doing it for a long time.’”

James Fugate’s book recommendations:

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Rich Thanks to Racism by Jim Freeman

America on Fire by Elizabeth Hinton


President Barack Obama visits James Fugate and Tom Hamilton of Eso Won Books in Los Angeles, CA, April 23, 2021. Video credit: Youtube.

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