The Washington, D.C., city council has unanimously voted to approve a 10-year tax abatement for Sankofa Video and Books, a move that will potentially save the store approximately $415,000 and keep it from closing. Sankofa, which has been open since 1988 and specializes in books about Africa and African-Americans, serves the community surrounding Howard University.
The store was facing a tax bill of $30,000 for the year.. Rising property values in the area had been pushing the bill higher and was likely to rise again in the future. Co-founder Shirikiana Gerima appealed to city councilmember Brianna Nadeau earlier this year, who sponsored the legislation, which faces a second vote before it will be presented to the mayor for approval.
The tax break demands that half of Sankofa’s employees live in D.C., and more than 30% of them living in Ward 1, the area surrounding the store.
“I hope that the Sankofa example is a spark for protections to be put in place for small black businesses,” said Gerima, in a report by DCist. “Legacy businesses who’ve been here through crack, through, in some cases, the riots, through gentrification—the latest devastation, they need to be supported in really, really concrete ways.”