Back to All Events

The Bookstore and The Public Space: Building Communities

The Bookstore and The Public Space: Building Communities

In an age where social media can often reinforce cultural divides and render discussion shallow, bookstores are a key space for substantive dialogue about our common future. Local, independent bookstores provide a forum for complex stories and support communities in thinking more deeply about our changing world. 

Featuring DC booksellers past and present - and from a variety of perspectives - this panel will consider how bookstores can cultivate intellectually curious and politically resilient communities. What lessons can be learned from DC's rich history of mission-driven bookstores? How do these high-minded goals coexist with the pressures and demands of commercial success? Join us for a fun and fascinating conversation about the legacy and future possibilities of DC's bookstore scene.


E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a progressive think tank located in Washington, D.C. For ten years he has been the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. Miller is the founder and former chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. He served as a Commissioner for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities from 1997-2008. He is board emeritus for the PEN/ Faulkner Foundation.The author of several collections of poetry--including the recently released Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller--he has written two memoirs, Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer and The 5th Inning.


Jonetta Rose Barras is an award-wining journalist and best-selling author. A former opinion writer for The Washington Post, she has more than 20 years experience reporting and commenting on national social, political, and cultural trends. In 2016, she was inducted into the Society of Professional Journalist DC Pro Hall of Fame. Ms. Barras is the author of Bridges: Reuniting Daughters and Daddies, Whatever Happened to Daddy's Little Girl: The Impact of Fatherlessness on Black Women, The Last of the Black Emperors: The Hollow Comeback of Marion Barry in the New Age of Black Leaders, and The Corner Is No Place For Hiding.

LaTissia Mitchell worked for two independent bookstores for 8+ years before leaving the book trade. Currently, LaTissia writes grants for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and volunteers with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop. She holds a M.A. in English from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University.

Anna Thorn is the general manager of Upshur Street Books, an independent community bookstore in Petworth DC. Prior to coming to Upshur Street, she worked for four years at Politics & Prose Bookstore, as a bookseller, Programs Manager, and other roles. She believes that bookstores are valuable cultural and community spaces, and that they are more important now than ever.

Bridget Warren is an experienced literary programmer and marketer. She co-owned Vertigo Books for almost 18 years. Vertigo Books opened November 1991 at Dupont Circle in DC with a specialty in international politics, world literature and African American studies. In April 2000, Vertigo Books moved to College Park, MD and was known for its excellent selection, knowledgeable staff and sense of community. Warren previously served as head of public relations and programming for a Washington, DC-area library system.

RSVP via Facebook