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A Day in the Life of Marcus Books

The Oakland Post, News Feature, Post Staff Posted: Feb 01, 2010

Its 10:00 a.m. on Friday, January 15th at the Oakland Marcus Book Store on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. The owner, Dr. Raye Richardson is not in the store today, but the three generations of the Richardson family are all there and working.

The first three customers of the day include Dr. Jeanne Revoire and her husband. Shes a well-known Bay Area psychologist. They say they began to patronize Marcus as children and now they regularly bring their own children to the bookstore. Another customer of 60 years, a retired parole officer, also asks if he too could help Marcus stay alive.

Dr. Richardsons granddaughter, Cherysse Calhoun assures them that the stores are not closing. She asks them to help spread the word and to provide financial help for the upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations. Each of the customers buys books and leaves their contact information.
After hearing of Mayor Ron Dellums pledge of support for the bookstore, another customer said he would contribute to the Marcus Legal Defense Fund.

Dellums sent representatives to meet with Dr. Richardsons daughter, Blanche to discuss how the City could be of assistance.

Blanche is delighted to find that Mayor Dellums has sent an attentive contingent from his office: Kitty Epstein, PhD, Director of Education, Theotis Oliphant, and Executive Director of Public Private Partnerships, Isaac Taggert, Re-entry Coordinator, and his Chief of Staff, Marisol Lopez. Marcus Books is represented by Blanche, Paul Cobb, Publisher of The Post newspapers, Post Staffer, Barbara Fluhrer, and a mortgage broker friend, Sylvester Brooks. The meeting goes very well with an enthusiastic volley of ideas from each of the participants. Each representative from the Mayors staff buys at least one book in support of the bookstore.

As the meeting winds down, Dr. Richardsons great grandson visits the store. Henry Hank Oliver is an academic scholarship student at Columbia University in New York. Accepted to over 15 prestigious universities after graduating summa cum laude from St. Marys High School in Berkeley, he has come by to see his mother, Cherysse and his grandmother, Blanche. Highly influenced by Drs. Raye and Julian Richardson as he grew up, Hank is a 20-year-old junior who has maintained a 4.0 GPA and a place on the Deans List since his freshman year. At Blanches urging, Hank speaks to Paul Cobb in Chinese, one of three languages he speaks. Cobb responds in Japanese. Hank has also taught himself to play 8 different musical instruments, has formed a performing hip-hop group at Columbia, and is a member of a capella singing group that performs on and off campus.

Meanwhile, outside the store on the 39th street alley Dr. Richardsons son, Billy Richardson who runs the familys printing business, and his son Billy, Jr. are revamping the often-tagged side of the building. Theyre painting the boarded-up lower windows, nailing trellises over them, and constructing planter boxes to hold climbing ivy. Billy, Sr. is a master stained-glass artist and is known for his unique graphic artistry on customers business cards and stationery. Billy, Jr. is a college sophomore at CCSF, volunteering to help his father with refurbishing the building. The father-son team frequently stops to talk with concerned and pleased customers and neighbors about the work theyre doing.

For the rest of the day, the phone rings off the hook and more customers come in to express their concern and support of the bookstore and make purchases.

For further information on ways you can help the on-going financial struggle at Marcus Books, please contact Barbara Fluhrer at The Post, (510-287-8200) or Blanche Richardson on Mondays at Marcus Books Oakland store (510-652-2344)

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