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The Rittenhouse Award is given annually at the PubWest conference in memory of Jack D. Rittenhouse, the West’s legendary bookman. It was established in 1990 as a way to thank and honor those who have made an important contribution to the community of the book in the West.

PubWest Announces 2021 Jack D. Rittenhouse Award Winners Drs. Raye and Julian Richardson

The 2021 Jack D. Rittenhouse Award was posthumously presented to Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson, founders of Marcus Books, the nation’s oldest Black-owned bookstore, based in Oakland, California.

The award was presented on February 3, 2021, during a free, open-to-all session at the annual PubWest (virtual) conference. The presentation began with a six-minute film about Raye and Julian Richardson and Marcus Books by Oakland-based filmmaker Charlotte Buchen Khadra.

Following the presentation, PubWest's Brad Lyons led a conversation with three BIPOC booksellers about the current challenges and opportunities of their profession.

The Rittenhouse Award was established in 1990, in memory of Jack D. Rittenhouse, a legendary bookman, writer, salesman, publisher and historian – in the American West--to thank and honor those who have made important contributions to the book community in the West.

Drs. Raye and Julian Richardson were a husband-and-wife team who moved to San Francisco after completing their studies at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where Julian majored in lithography and Raye in education. In 1960, they opened the Success Book Store in the Fillmore district.

Readers looking for information and community soon found Success Books, a place to meet, organize, and share thoughts and strategies. The Richardsons later changed the name to Marcus Books, because they were followers of Marcus Garvey, and opened a second store in Oakland, which continues to serve their mission of “providing opportunities for Black folks and their allies to celebrate and learn about Black people everywhere.” Dr. Julian Richardson died in 2000. Dr. Raye Richardson died in February 2020 at the age of 99.

“Julian and Raye Richardson paved the way as printers and booksellers and as community leaders who ran a successful small business,” said Brad Lyons, chair of the PubWest Rittenhouse Award committee. “They set an example that helped us understand and appreciate the significance of Black bookstores.”

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