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Black History Month: Vickie Williams

In celebration of Black History Month, we are hosting a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, and events connected to the history of Seattle’s Black community.

When Vickie Williams opened the doors to the first Black-owned bookstore in Washington more than 20 years ago, she had a vision. She envisioned a place where the Black community could gather safely to learn about their heritage and empower each other.

Located in Columbia City, Life Enrichment Bookstore (L.E.M.S) became the only bookstore in the state specializing in African-American literature and history. Beyond books, L.E.M.S is truly a community hub. The store serves as a community center, event space, church, and second home to many.

Though the bookstore closed temporarily after Williams’ death in 2017, L.E.M.S reopened its doors last year and continues to honor her legacy and lifelong mission of bringing energy, education, and empowerment to the Black community.