I remember being a Beta Rose Petal and going down to L.E.M.S. Life Enrichment Bookstore to do some community service for Ms. Vickie Williams. So of course, when I found out L.E.M.S. Life Enrichment Bookstore is on its way to shutting doors for good, I felt the need to spread the word on how we all can help save it.
For those of you that aren’t from Seattle or just have never heard of L.E.M.S. it’s located in Columbia City and actually started out as a Christian bookstore. Then it became Learning Educational Materials and Software, aka LEMS.
As time went on Ms. Vickie Williams added children’s books and content from African-American authors.
“We had anything and everything,” said Aaliyah Messiah, Williams’ partner in business and life. “There’s so many things that happened in that store.” [Via Seattle Times]
Ms. Vickie Williams’ purpose for the store was for the African-American community to learn its history and have a place to gather for discussions, celebrations, and dinners. However the store is currently facing a financial burden that could shut the doors for good.
Edwin Lindo and Ms. Vickie Williams’ son Hassan Messiah El are currently trying to raise $75k to pay bill and reopen the space.
“We're talking about the last black-owned bookstore that focuses its material, that focuses its programming, on the African diaspora,” said Edwin Lindo. He's trying to save the shop, which closed two years ago when its longtime owner Ms. Vickie Williams died. The space is still used occasionally for special events and celebrations.
“It is an institution, kids have grown up in this space, elders have come here and provided knowledge to the community, we can't let it go, but it is on the brink of being lost,” Lindo said.
“You get to this point now where you're like, ‘alright, I need assistance,’” said Hassan Messiah El, Williams’ son.
He worries he won't be able to pay the rent much longer, so he's partnered with Estelita's Library, a justice-focused community bookstore and library in Beacon Hill.
“When we spoke, it was like, ‘hey, we're on the same page, like exactly the same page, so, hey let's do this,’” Messiah El said. [via King5]
As of Today March 5, 2019 they have raised $21,260 on their Gofundme page with a pleasant update to their supporters saying they’ve surpassed their first goal to cover back rent:
We are beyond grateful!!
We’ve surpassed our first goal to cover the back rent. It has been paid and we are in talks with the landlord for an extended lease!
It is truly unbelievable the outpouring of support. This is true community support.
Let’s keep sharing; let’s keep donating; let’s keep our spaces! SAVE LEMS: PNW Only Black-owned/focused Bookstore