Lewis H. Michaux, bookstore owner, civil rights activist

Lewis H. Michaux (1895–1976) was a Harlem bookseller and civil rights activist. Between 1932 and 1974 he owned the African National Memorial Bookstore in Harlem, New York City, one of the most prominent African-American bookstores in the country.  Before coming to New York he worked as a pea picker, window washer and deacon in a church in Philadelphia.

Michaux opened the African National Memorial Bookstore in 1932 on 7th Avenue and stayed there until 1968, when he was forced to move the store to West 125th Street (on the corner of 7th street) to give space to the State Harlem office building. The bookstore finally closed in 1974 after another location issue. He called his bookstore “House of Common Sense and the Home of Proper Propaganda”. The store became an important reading room of the Civil Rights Movement. The bookstore was a rare place for black people and scholars and anyone interested in literature by, or about, African Americans, Africans, Caribbeans and South Americans. Michaux’s bookstore had over 200,000 texts and was the nation’s largest on its subject.

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