North Nashville Bookstore Alkebu-Lan Images Celebrates 35 Years With Record Profits

Yusef Harris is the owner of Alkebu- Lan bookstore in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Harris has owned the business for 35 years, selling African American books, gifts, and apparel. (Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean)

Alkebu-Lan Images, a bright yellow shop nestled in the heart of North Nashville for the past 35 years, has always been more than a bookstore to its owner.

Yusef Harris opened the store to aid in the psychological growth of the Black community and spent the ensuing decades providing a platform for emerging Black authors.

Last year, he said, his store regularly saw record profits due in large part to the Black Lives Matter and Buy Black movements.

In the mid ’80s, Harris was completing his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University and teaching at Tennessee State University part time when the property went up for sale. Starting with limited external investments, he turned what was a gas station into a warm and inviting place of higher learning.

Alkebu-Lan is believed by many to be the original name for the continent Africa and is said to translate to “the land of the Blacks.” Harris found the name fitting for the objective of his company.

Nostalgic essence

Since opening in 1986, he has lined the shelves with colorful children’s books, beautiful pieces of fashion and handmade jewelry, holistic health and beauty items, and an array of novels on vast topics. The shop is filled with scents that make your nose dance.

The store’s mission is to reflect African American culture, heritage and history to build self-esteem among African Americans and expose other cultures to the beauty found in African American culture.

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SOURCE: Nashville Tennessean, WaTeasa Freeman