Walking back to the Metro-North train from the Harlem Book Fair last month, I couldn’t help but glance with longing over at the corner of Lenox Avenue and 131st Street where Liberation Bookstore had held court for nearly 40 years.
Liberation Bookstore was founded in 1967 and run by Una Mulzac, a woman whose knowledge of Black heritage, and memorable personal style, were both seasoned cultural treasures in themselves.
When you walked into Liberation, you were as much impressed with how small the shop was as you were with how much material was packed into it. Books and pamphlets and posters filled up much of the wall and floor space—the shop was a veritable repository marking the pr
ogression of Black American politics, economics, health issues, social movements and cultural arts.
Una Mulzac is 85 years young, now, frail but still feisty, as relayed to me in an email from her niece Leticia Mulzac.
And now, the thousands of items that remained after Liberation Bookstore closed is being offered for sale, explained in an email that Leticia Mulzac sent (reprinted below)
Leticia Mulzac says that the inventory will only be available for a short time given consideration of the cost of maintaining the thousands of items in its catalog. In an email to me last week, she said “a decision must be made soon.”
Please read the email below and send around to any institution or person whom you think could keep this archive together and available to the public. Thanks.
And my warmest thanks to you, Ms. Una Mulzac, for keeping the banner raised so admirably for so long.
Email from Leticia Mulzac (reprinted with permission):
From: Leticia Mulzac <firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Sun, Jul 18, 2010
Subject: Liberation Bookstore (see attached PDF for Inventory)
I am writing to you in regards to my Aunt Una Mulzac, owner of the historic Liberation Bookstore in Harlem for over 35 years.)
For most of her life she dedicated herself to improving the condition of the African American people through education and as an activist championing civil rights causes. Her work has been recognized and praised by many in the community and has been interviewed on many occasions. It was her father’s legacy, Hugh Mulzac, himself an important historical figure that inspired her to work endlessly to advance the cause that became her life‘s work.
At 85 years old she was no longer able to look after herself or her business. I am now working with her legal guardian to find a buyer for her stock of books - a catalog of nearly 10,000 political & historical titles - some that have been out of print for many years. The collection is perfect for a cultural or educational institution. This collection is on offer as a whole and open to any party with a vested interest in maintaining their educational value. While many libraries are working with limited budgets, perhaps a philanthropic alumni association would be able to purchase the collection on behalf of their alma mater.
Anything interest or helpful suggestions would be most appreciated. Please respond as soon as possible since time is of the essence. I would be happy to forward the inventory list to you.
[Minor edits were made to this post on Monday, February 28, 2011.]