Black women are creating their own narratives. Black entrepreneur Olaronke Akinmowo started “Free Black Women’s Library,” a free library located in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood. She said that she started this initiative to shed light on Black women authors.
Inside Akinmowo’s Archival Space
Free Black Women’s Library features comic books, zines, journals and recorded novels. Akinmowo started the literary establishment as a cultural phenomenon filled with gems.
The genres include young adult novels, womanist fiction, memoirs and poetry. In an interview with TimeOut, she expressed that she wanted to salute the minds of Black women and nonbinary writers. Akinmowo told the publication that the library was her outlet, and she wanted guests to feel centered when visiting her space. As a child, the library enlightened her consciousness and left her feeling inspired to open a center for her community.
How She Got Started
Akinmowo started her collection with 100 books written by Black women. Akinmowo’s agenda started on the stoop of a Bed-Stuy brownstone. She also would travel with novels in her suitcase. During her travels, she would place books in public areas and engage in conversations and with the New York community.
She hosts over 6000 books written by Black women and Black non-binary authors and wanted to change the negative stereotypes Black women face in the media.
How the Library Works
Instead of renting books for a fee, Akinmowo implements a “trading system” with customers. In order to take a book home, she requires visitors to bring a book written by Black women or nonbinary novelists, then exchange it at no cost. She’s traded thousands of books with a multitude of people since she started this journey.
The Black business woman also uses her space for workshops, film screenings and author features. The library serves everyone. However, Akinmowo specifically welcomes Black women to come and heal in her communal center.