A memorial service will be held this week for Carol McNeal, a bookstore owner who died on May 26 at the age of 86. McNeal was the owner of Carol’s Books & Things, a place described as a “library of the black experience and a bridge across the racial divide,” according to the Sacramento Bee.
McNeal had a passion for reading and sought to bring the experience of African Americans to light, her daughter Melba Whitaker said. McNeal told the Sacramento Bee that one of McNeal’s favorite day trips had been driving to the nation’s oldest African-American bookstore, Marcus Books, in San Francisco’s Fillmore District.
“She always had a love of reading, and she would go to San Francisco to enjoy Marcus Books, and then she decided we needed something like that in Sacramento,” she said. “We (African Americans) needed a place where we could come be ourselves－everything for us, by us and about us.”
Carol’s Books & Things opened in 1984 in San Francisco as a general interest bookstore. According to her son, Tim, after McNeal began being approached by customers who specifically sought to find books featuring African-American protagonists and children’s books with black characters, she decided to use her bookstore to educate the public on the African-American experience.
“She was a lifelong learner,” Tim McNeal said. “Both she and my dad were very committed to making the lives of people around them better, so education was a big part of what they shared with people. They encouraged people to continually find ways to educate themselves.”
Featured Image via The Sacramento Bee