CPS teacher seeks to open 1st bookstore in Roseland to combat gun violence

Jasmine Minor Image
Thursday, March 28, 2024
CPS teacher seeks to open 1st bookstore in Roseland
A Chicago Collegiate Charter School teacher wants to open the 1st bookstore in Roseland, called Rose Cafe, to combat gun violence.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Roseland woman is on a mission to use books as a way to combat youth gun violence.

There are currently no bookstores in the Far South Side community.

But Chicago Collegiate Charter School teacher Iesha Malone is determined to change that.

When Malone envisions the bookstore, she sees it as a place of mentorship, of safety and ultimately a place that keeps kids off the streets and dreaming big.

"This is considered a book desert," Malone said. "We have to travel at least 8 miles to get to a bookstore"

It's been her frustration for years. A bookstore is something she said would give her students limitless imagination.

"When you struggle, you can change that with reading because it takes you on an adventure," Malone said.

While there is Pullman Public Library, there are currently no bookstores in Roseland.

Malone has made it her mission to change that by opening "Rose Cafe."

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"We raised about $7,000. That could buy your door," Malone said.

The full-time teacher said opening a neighborhood bookstore means she'll need closer to a million dollars. Others like her said they know the struggle of getting resources.

Diane Latiker would give up every award she's earned in the 20 years of combating youth gun violence through her Kids Off The Block program, if it meant kids had the help needed to achieve their dreams.

"Why do you think kids want to be astronauts or they want to be politicians, whatever, teachers? Because they've read about it," Latiker said.

It's why Malone has spent the last few years doing book drives.

It's all to raise money and awareness for the future Rose Café, as she envisions its every detail on the corner of 107th Street and Martin Luther King Drive.

"I picture a bench out there, me and my principal discussing, and girls walking across the street, like 'what are they doing?' I picture myself telling them to come in and giving them a book that looks like them," Malone said.

She said she can't quit until that vision becomes a reality.

"Reading is cool. It could change your life," Malone said.

To support Malone in her mission to bring more books to Roseland, visit www.rosecafe.org.

There is also an upcoming book drive at 9 a.m. June 22 at 111th Street and Michigan Avenue.