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Source of Knowledge: A Newark Bookstore Honors African Ancestry

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) –  For co-owner Patrice McKinney, Source of Knowledge is more than a bookstore.

"It's an institution of learning. I get to meet my family every day, the customers, and the first thing I tell them is: 'Welcome home,'" she said.

Surrounded by incense, artwork, and conversation, visitors often feel too comfortable to leave.

"They want us here 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Patrice said.

Dexter George, a native of Tobago, started the business three decades ago, having gotten his start selling books on the street. He's proud of what he has built.

"It's a blessing. When I come in the morning time, and I sit in the car outside, and I look across the street, I say, 'Wow, Dexter, you have done something really well,'" he said.

His inventory focuses on literature by and about people of African descent. He also custom-frames the artwork that hangs on the walls, a skill he taught himself.

When a schoolteacher named Masani Barnwell stopped in to shop for her students, a connection was sparked among the rows of books. She later became Dexter's wife and business partner.

Patrice was a regular customer before joining the team.

Now, the three guide visitors through sections for history, cooking, and self-help. Many of their writers are self-published. Some are local, including Newark native Jasmine Mans, whose poetry collection Black Girl Call Home is a top seller.

The kids' section has options tailored to toddlers, teens, and everyone in between.

"Our children's selection, we're very proud of it. And we're proud of whole store. We really are," Masani said.

Dexter says he owes the shop's success to the people of Newark.

"Without them, there is no Source of Knowledge," he said.

With their support, he hopes to pursue the business's mission into the future.

"It's telling a story of where we came from, and it's continuing the legacy of what our ancestors have left for us, so I hope that Source of Knowledge will continue doing that," he said.

Source of Knowledge
867 Broad Street
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 824-2556

What's something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.


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