Lansing woman opens bookstore with all black authors

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A woman from Lansing says she’s filling a missing piece the Lansing community needs, and it’s a bookstore full of African-American writers.

Nyshell Lawrence is the owner of the Socialight Society bookstore. A trip to a bookstore in 2017 sparked her new idea, and in the midst of a pandemic, she brought this idea.

Just 4 years ago, Lawrence noticed that something was missing in Lansing.

“My husband took me on a date at a local bookstore and when I saw the section on women of color it was so small. I felt really disappointed, I felt invisible and not celebrated, ”said Lawrence, owner of the Socialight Society bookstore.

She said she didn’t want anyone else to feel what she was feeling.
“We walk in so many spaces that we’re the minority and I just think it’s really important for us to be able to have a place where we can go and say, this is a place where I belong. I see women who look like me, ”Lawrence said.

This month Lawrence opened his own Socialight Society Bookshop.

“It made a lot of sense for us to bring the celebration to the center of town. And now, every time someone walks out of Washington Square, they know there is a space where black women are celebrated, ”Lawrence said. “Women come in just to say thank you. They are amazed to see so many books written by black authors, ”she continued.

From local authors to well-known authors and from poetry books to children’s books.
“I am the mother of four daughters. So I know for a fact when they pick up a book and they see a little girl who looks like them or they see a boy who represents someone in their class. It means so much that it’s so impactful, ”she said.

Lawrence says his bookstore is a safe space for everyone.
“Everyone is invited. Everyone is welcome, these are stories that everyone can relate to,” she said.

It is also a place of which she is proud.
“For an idea to be in the Notes app on your phone one day and then like the next day, you’re in a shared space where people come in. It is absolutely unbelievable. It’s bigger than I could have imagined, ”she said.

Currently, Lawrence shares the space with another business in downtown Lansing and is saving to move elsewhere. She is also raising funds to create a free community library for children of color. For more information on the Socialight Society bookstore visit their website here.

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