SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The South Sacramento community is still reeling after COVID-19 claimed a beloved bookstore owner whose life mission was to inspire the love of reading, especially among Black youth.
In her short time, South Sacramento community leaders say she impacted countless lives. Through book club programs like Boys in the Hood and Around the Way Girls, Maeshia did more than read with local youth; she empowered them.
“She encouraged me and all of the girls in the book club to be more confident and walk with pride,” said 12-year-old Zoriya Kamara.
Kamara was one of the many young people touched by Maeshia’s advocacy and is now grieving after the beloved bookstore owner died from complications of COVID-19 in late August. She was just 49, her family said.
“It’s surprising and shocking to have her suddenly ripped away from us,” Kamara said.
Maeshia was a force in the community. She was the co-creator behind events like Shop Black Friday and the Black Food Festival.
She filled her bookstore, All Things Literacy, with Black stories, but more than that, she filled it with love.
“When you walked into her bookstore, you felt like you were at home,” said colleague and friend, Berry Accius. “It didn’t matter who you were. You would think that you knew her for a lifetime the way she would be talking.”
“She was a ball of energy. She was a light in dark tunnel,” said Brother Ra, founder of the African Market Place which housed the bookstore.
Family and friends say they are determined to keep her light shining.
“That’s something she said. The way you honor a person is you keep their name lit. So we’re going to make sure her name lit. That’s how we are going to honor Dana,” Accius said.
Maeshia told ABC10 an interview back in 2018.that the power of reading could open doors for Sacramento’s youth.
“We want to build self-esteem. We want them to let them know they come from a rich legacy in hopes they will aspire to achieve more,” Maeshia previously told ABC10.
Services for Maeshia will be held on Tuesday. Her sisters and colleagues say they will carry on her bookstore inside the African Market Place and her reading programs. Donations can be made at Escape Velocity Foundation - which Maeshia founded.