Book store delivers ethnic experience

Amen-Ra’s Bookshop and Gallery offers a unique experience for students looking for a strong dose of black culture.

The bookstore possesses a wide variety of Afro-centric literature and materials that would be difficult to obtain anywhere else in Tallahassee.

Amen-Ra’s is located within walking distance of both FAMU and FSU’s campus on Macomb Street.

Decorated with a number of African artworks, statues and other memorabilia, the book store sets a serene ambiance for students to interact with each other.

Upon entering the store you are immediately greeted by the fresh scent of incense in the air and the rhythmical tunes of various genres of music playing in the background.

Amen-Ra’s contains a wide variety of books ranging from African centered children’s books to accounts of CIA covert operations. It also possesses a large amount of contemporary mainstream fiction novels that can be found in larger book stores.

“Starting with the information level, you’ll see that we have a lot of books that you cannot find at Borders and Barnes & Noble, because they don’t carry books about us. Especially the commentary that are political and more important,” said Dana Denard, FAMU adjunct professor of psychology, and the owner of Amen-Ra’s.

Denard opened the book store in 1990 with the intent of using it as a method to provide local students with accurate information on their history as a people.

“Historically, one of the primary means of keeping black people unproductive in society is to keep them ignorant. So we’ve used the book store as a vehicle to convey information to young minds,” Denard said.

Denard prides himself in the fact that the book store has multiple points of view on matters confronting black culture, and that no particular position is favored.

Denard said black people are in a constant search for knowledge, and that the duty of the book store is to provide the necessary information, not to sway anyone’s opinion to any particular issue.

For many students in the community, the book store has become an invaluable resource.

“It’s completely focused and about the black experience,” said Lafayette Williams, a junior sociology student at Florida State University. The Jacksonville resident said that he has been a frequent visitor of Amen-Ra’s since finding out about it from friends during his freshman year.

“In my time in Tallahassee, the store has been a positive and progressive place to not only learn, but also to socialize and be myself.”

Some in the community use it as a place for relaxation.

“It is a community type place. People come in to hang out and be around other like-minded people who are positive and concerned with helping black people,” said Junius English, an employee of Amen-Ra’s for the last six months.

The FAMU alumnus from Trenton, N.J. also said, “Often times you only get a glance of our community. Here we try to give you an entire picture, a full perspective.”

English said that the peaceful atmosphere of the shop sets it apart from other book stores around town. He said that the welcoming atmosphere invites students to come in and explore the inner workings of Amen-Ra’s.

Contact Anthony M. Moore at