When the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd sparked national protests and reinvigorated conversations about systemic racism, local residents joined many other Americans in their search for anti-racist literature. Designed to highlight diverse voices, Silver Spring’s Loyalty Bookstore was suited to fulfill that need. Queer and Black founder and owner Hannah Oliver Depp, 35, and her staff worked long days shipping and delivering an influx of orders in the months following the protests. Depp says online orders, the majority of which included at least one book on anti-racism or the history of racism, skyrocketed from 1,200 in April to 22,000 in September. The spike in orders was a lifeline for the bookstore, which opened in February 2020, a month before the pandemic began.
Even while the Ellsworth Drive store (and its sister location in the District’s Petworth neighborhood) remained closed through the summer, Loyalty Bookstore curated a reading list of intersectional anti-racist works, from the contemporary and interactive Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad, to canonical James Baldwin novels. The bookstore also produces virtual events, including an anti-racist book club. In the fall, the Silver Spring location cautiously reopened for in-person shopping by appointment.
823 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, 301-448-1830, loyaltybookstores.com