Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books is an independent black bookstore located in the eclectic Germantown section of Philadelphia. It’s mission: to provide underserved communities access to books, and provide a safe space to all who patronize.
“To often we don’t build beautiful things in our community unless they’re gentrified, and I truly believe that this neighborhood, Germantown, deserves beauty. It deserves infrastructure. It deserves community” Owner Marc Lamont Hill tells us.
The space was inspired by Marc’s Uncle Bobbie Lee Hill and his house. The real life Uncle Bobbie grew up in the south during the Jim Crowe era, and he returned from serving in WWII to injustice. He sought solace from the oppression he faced in books written by a multitude of black writers, many of whom are featured in this store.
“He wanted to figure out the world on his own terms, so he read books. What school couldn’t give him, he got for himself” Marc explains.
He shared these books and ideas with Marc as a child which ultimately inspired the inception of this bookstore. Today, Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books exists in an effort to emulate that same access to knowledge and level of comfort that Marc once felt in his uncle’s home.
“His house was a place where I learned how to think critically, how to ask questions, but also to recognize that there is a long and deep tradition of black writers that the world needs to know, but often doesn’t know” Marc tells us.
Marc opened Uncle Bobbie’s in Germantown in 2017, and he continues to offer the community an array of carefully curated books intended to shine a spotlight on issues that have lived too long in the shadows. The space encourages its patrons to learn and share ideas while providing an atmosphere of instantaneous comfort and sense of community.