Lucy Parsons Center
The Lucy Parsons Center, located in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts, is an all-volunteer, nonprofit collective, operating as both a radical, independent bookstore and a community center for individuals to drop in, as well as a free meeting and event space for local activist groups.
The Lucy Parsons Center was founded on July 1, 1992. It is a successor organization to the Red Book Store, originally founded in a one-room basement shop in Central Square, Cambridge, in 1969 (or 1971, or 1972, depending on your source). Red Book gave outstanding service to Boston's progressive/radical community for more than 20 years, and many of its traditions, allies and experiences have been folded into the Lucy Parsons Center.
In the late 80s, the collective was moved to Jamaica Plain. One of the founders, George Katsiaficas, worked his way into the store one day to see how the collective was going. He seemed very disappointed in the state of things and thought the cause of "dust on all of the books" was due to the withering collective's distance from the heart of Boston. Putting his house up on loan, Katsiaficas rented a brand new storefront just outside of the Central T stop in Central Square in Cambridge. Within the first day, all of the books on black history were sold. The collective was revived. After the year lease of the location, the collective's name was changed to the Lucy Parsons Center and moved to the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.
In 2011, the Lucy Parsons Center moved back to Jamaica Plain.
The Lucy Parsons Center's namesake, Lucy Parsons, was a radical labor organizer, anarchist (and later, Communist) and is remembered as a powerful orator.
The Center is a nonprofit organization with a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. It is currently maintained entirely by volunteers. In addition to volunteers, there is also a large number of long-standing supporters who connect the Center to the community. The Center is an independent educational institution not affiliated with or beholden to any other individual, group, party, organization or government.
Apart from its function as a bookstore, the Lucy Parsons Center serves as a space for community organizers to use for meetings and special events. It also hosts a weekly movie night.
One of the main volunteer activities is staffing the bookstore, which primarily involves handling the daily customer sales and upkeep of the store. In addition, there are many activities within and outside of the bookstore that volunteers and collective members contribute to: bookkeeping, book ordering, staffing/schedule coordinator, book tabling at local events, coordinating events in-store, newsletters, fundraising, and much more. People interested in becoming involved in the Lucy Parsons Center are free to call or come in to the bookstore and sign up for volunteer training (4 weeks) or simply talk with any collective member.