Ancestry Books is more than bookstore, it is a community third place that focuses on re-centering the narratives of indigenous authors and authors of color.
Co-founders Chaun Webster and Verna Wong have both had a longstanding passion
and commitment to literature. Chaun, who is himself a poet, founded Free Poet’s Press
in 2009 with the intention of creating a platform for Black and Brown authors to take
back their inherent right to create and own what they’ve created, developing their
own rubric of analyzing it and the onus for determining its purpose and distribution.
Verna is an ELL teacher and currently pursuing a masters in Literacy Education from
Hamline. As an educator, Verna has sought to create space for her students to see
themselves in the literature they read, and to engage all media critically.
Opening a bookstore in their community was a dream for quite awhile that became
more tangible after visiting La Casa Azul Bookstore in New York November 2012.
When visiting and seeing the beautiful space situated in the heart of El Barrio, and all
the cultural energy that it brought to its community, it became more than just something
Verna and Chaun were content to just dream about.
In January of 2014 they signed a lease for a storefront at 2205 Lowry and launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Ancestry Books. In 13 days they managed to raise $10,000 and received another $10,000 grant shortly thereafter to partner with the neighborhood to run events. From the shelves, to the logo design, to the painting and flooring it has been a community effort building Ancestry Books which opens June 7th 2014. Events will range from readings, workshops, storytelling, musical performance and installation art.
As of September 26th, Ancestry Books closed their physical location and is currently operating online until a new home is found. They can also take book orders by email and phone. Verna and Chaun are grateful for the continued support of the community and look forward to what is ahead as they envision a new North Minneapolis home for their bookshop.