Tag: Afriware Books

Maywood Bookstore Completes Expansion In Time For 25th Anniversary

Thursday, September 6, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Afriware Books in Maywood is now located inside of much more expansive digs. | Afriware Books 

A popular, independently owned African American bookstore in Maywood recently opened a larger location.

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Novelist With Maywood Ties Explores Suffocating Reality of Race

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Marian L. Thomas takes a break from a book signing and discussion inside of AfriWare Books in Maywood on Saturday to talk about her most recent novel, “I Believe in Butterflies.” | Michael Romain/VFP

Monday, June 5, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

In the opening scene of Marian L. Thomas’s new novel, “I Believe in Butterflies,” Emma Lee Baker, one of the lead characters, is standing on a bridge “during the heat of the day” and staring at fish.

“I ain’t crazy. I just like staring at freedom,” Baker says through the book’s first-person narration. Moments later, the reader finds out the 76-year-old woman’s grim discovery — the body of a young girl who appears to be no older than 14, her blonde hair “wrapped around her neck like it was the thing that choked the poor life out of her.”

Thomas flips the script, so to speak, on a very familiar literary occurrence — instead of a black male found dead, the victim of a lynching; here is white innocence itself, a young blonde female teen, symbolically lynched by the very standard of beauty and power meant to be her protection. Before long, racism makes victims of us all, Thomas’s novel proposes.

Race and its many, suffocating complications, loom over much of the author’s body of work, which includes a children’s book, a play and six novels.

But it took leaving relatively integrated Oak Park and moving to Atlanta for Thomas to start working through those many complications.


In Oak Park, Thomas lived with her maternal grandparents, who were one of two black homeowners on the block, she said. The reality of race here, however, wasn’t quite as domineering as it was in Atlanta.

For the most part, Thomas’s grandparents lived the American Dream, which they earned through a degree of thrift that’s rare nowadays. Thomas’s grandmother, a nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital and her grandfather, a baker, bought their Oak Park house and their Cadillacs in cash.

“They drove Cadillacs that were paid for and they would drive a car until it just fell apart,” Thomas, 45, recalled during a recent interview after a book signing event held Saturday at AfriWare Books in Maywood.

 “We don’t do that today, but that was them. They paid cash for everything,” she said of her grandparents. “They didn’t believe in credit cards. In the book, Emma Lee Baker talks about how her husband was able to afford the home she still lives in and how it was unheard of for African Americans to own a home.”

In 1988, Thomas moved to Atlanta with her father and stepmother. She was only one of two black seniors in her high school’s graduating class. Thomas said her father now lives in Maywood.

“Growing up in Oak Park, I didn’t really understand the whole black, white, interracial dynamic until I moved to the South, which is a very different culture,” she said. “It was an eye-opener.”

If moving to the South sparked an awareness of grand themes that would define her work, Thomas’s time in Oak Park fertilized her passion for storytelling. It was in the library at Oak Park and River Forest High School where she wrote he first short story, which became the basis for her first novel, “Color Me Jazzmyne” — published two decades and many rewrites later.

The book climbed to the top of the Amazon bestseller’s list and won a Sankofa Literary Society award.

Thomas had by then graduated from college magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business. She said she was pushed by an old boss to rework her high school short story into a novel.

Now, Thomas, who works full-time as a digital marketing professional, is experiencing a fresh surge in popularity and appeal. Her message, though, is as age-old as her grandparents’ thriftiness.

“Emma talks about her fish and why she loves her fish, which she call ‘freedom,’” Thomas said. “That’s because that’s how God meant for all of us to be [just as fish are fish, people are people]. We should focus on being men and women. Race shouldn’t be the first thing we think about. The message in the book is to treat each other as humans.” VFP

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D89 Ends Black History Month With a Bang, Maywood Bookstore to Host Author of ‘From Colored to Black’


Students, staff and teachers of District 89 celebrate a district-wide Black History Month event on Feb. 28. | Photos submitted

IMG_4557Wednesday, March 8, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

District 89 ended Black History Month with a district-wide celebration on Feb. 28 at Jane Addams Elementary School, 910 Division St., in Melrose Park.

According to teacher Tyra Bolton, the program featured performances by students from Garfield, Emerson and Washington Dual Language elementary schools, along with Irving Junior High students.

Tables were setup by all nine district schools displaying various elements of black history, with all converging around the theme, “Pride, Determination, Resilience.”

Bolton said that last month’s program is the start of an annual tradition within the district.

Author of ‘From Colored to Black’ to visit Maywood

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Author Erin Goseer Mitchell poses for a portrait in 2013 for the Chicago Tribune. | Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune

ColoredtoBlack frontcover.jpgJust because Black  History Month is over doesn’t mean that black history ends. Case in point — Afriware Books, located inside Suite 503 within the Eisenhower Tower, 1701 S. 1st Ave. in Maywood.

The venerable Maywood bookstore will host Erin Goseer Mitchell, author of  From Colored to Black: A Bittersweet Journey on Saturday, March 11, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m.

According to Mitchell’s website, the book is the result of a 2014 writers’ workshop she attended that was held at National Louis University.

“One of the requirements for attending the workshop was to submit and present a page of work in progress,” Mitchell writes.

“Rick Kogan, a senior editor at the Chicago Tribune, was the facilitator of the session. When my turn came, I read a page from an account about my first year in Chicago after I left Fitzgerald, Georgia. The group found it compelling. Kogan was very encouraging and told me that he wanted more, that this was a part of Chicago history that he had never heard.

“With his comments and the prodding I had gotten from my readers, I began the arduous and often painful process of writing about my life in Chicago. The reminiscences that comprise this book are a result of that effort.”

Mitchell, who was born in Selma, Alabama and grew up in Fitzgerald, Georgia “one generation before the Civil Rights Movement began,” according to an Afriware promotional flyer, gives a detailed personal account of her life in the segregated South.

For more information on the event or on Afriware in general, call (708) 223-8081 or click here. For more information on Mitchell, visit her website by clicking here. VFP

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