Radical bookstore moving to JP

David Taber

HYDE SQ.—The radical leftist, volunteer-run Lucy Parsons Center (LPC) bookstore and community center is moving to Jamaica Plain in June.

“We hope to build a community base and be part of the community in JP,” Corry Banton, a member of the collective that runs the center told the Gazette.

That would be a welcome change, she said, after years in “the heart of the South End. The people walking by were not really interested in what we were doing.”

It also could mean an end to decades of moves for the center. The LPC, which has moved about 10 times in its 42-year existence, owns the retail condo it is moving into at 358a Centre St.

“We have been saving up for a while,” Banton said. The volunteer-run store relies entirely on book sales and donations to make ends meet. The work they have had to do on the new space, which was foreclosed on, has included removing asbestos, making the space handicap accessible and building bookshelves, she said.

Originally founded in 1969 as The Red Bookstore, the Lucy Parsons Center came into existence in 1992—taking the name Lucy Parsons, a prominent labor and anti-racist activist in Chicago in the late 1800s

Under the Red Book Store name, the store was previously in JP between 1983 and 1994, according to the LPC website, www.LucyParsons.org.

The store was “heavily Maoist in the beginning,” the website says—a reference to a militant brand of socialism inspired by Chinese Communist Mao Tze-tung. But it was never wholly sectarian and today carries socialist, anarchist, feminist and progressive-liberal material, the website says.

“Most of the collective members are anarchists and autonomists” now, Banton told the Gazette, referring to leftist, anti-authoritarian schools of thought. And many of them live in JP, she said.

In addition to selling books, the LPC hosts regular Wednesday night movies, anarchist potlucks, book events and discussion groups she said. It also serves as meeting space for leftist groups like the radical labor union the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

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