As a substitute teacher, Williams observed students struggling to identify with and be motivated by reading about heroes who looked so different from them and who were not products of the struggles of people of African descent. She wanted to help provide books to these students and the larger community that were by and about Black people and Community Book Center was born.
She started the Community Book Center in her parents’ home in the Lower Ninth Ward in 1983 with $300 of personal savings. As business grew, Williams sold books from the back of her car. Three decades later, national firms such as Borders and some local book stores have closed due to the competition of on-line markets and other outlets. However, Community Book Center, located on Bayou Road, continues to serve its customers and community in the midst of very difficult industry challenges. Community Book Center now owns this region’s most extensive collection of publications written by and about people of African descent.
Community Book Center is much more than a retail outlet. It is much more that a successful entrepreneurial venture. Community is a community gathering and building place.