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History of Boston's First Afrocentric Store - A Nubian Notion

Roxbury History Speaker Series

What is the Notion?
A History of A Nubian Notion Inc., Boston's First Afrocentric Store
April 17 2013, 7PM
Haley House Bakery Cafe
12 Dade St Roxbury

Dinner available for purchase from 5PM
Free parking in the Haley House lot.

History of "A Nubian Notion"

A Nubian Notion Inc was founded in 1962 by Malik A Abdal-Khallaq. For many years, A Nubian Notion Inc. was the only store in Boston selling African and African American products. Cards, jewelry, art, fabric, Afro-piks (an original design), dashikis (created by Mrs. Elva Lee C. Abdal-Khallaq, the wife of Malik Abdal-Khallaq), books and much more were available, providing the Roxbury community with knowledge, self-awareness and cultural identity.

Malik Abdal-Khallaq
Malik A. Abdal-Khallaq in center and Sharif Abdal-Khallaq on far right in front of barber shop on Humboldt-back in the day
Jumaada Abdal-Khallaq H. Smith
Jumaada Abdal-Khallaq H. Smith with Kay Bourne at A  Nubian Notion

Malik Abdal-Khallaq was a leader in the Roxbury community and often sought out by visiting dignitaries including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Russell, Bill Cosby, El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), President John F. Kennedy and Louis Farrakhan, to name a few. He made trips to Egypt and Sudan and brought back artifacts which he displayed in Beau Nubian Brummel Tonsorial Emporium, his barber shop on Humboldt Ave. Because of the community desire for these products he eventually opened A Nubian Notion Inc. It is still owned and operated by the Abdal-Khallaq family today.

Jumaada Abdal-Khallaq H. Smith is the Coordinator of the Goldenaires of Freedom House and a community leader involved in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Dudley Square Main Streets, the Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force, Organization of African American Veterans, St Katharine Drexel Church, the Roxbury Collaborative and the Boston Juneteenth Committee.

Presentation: History and Panel Discussion

Jumaada Abdal-Khallaq H. Smith, daughter of Malik Abdal Khallaq and other members of the family will share the history and their memories of A Nubian Notion Inc, at one time the largest one stop Afrocentric store in New England.

After the presentation about the store's history, a panel will reflect on the impact A Nubian Notion Inc had on them and on the Black community in Boston. Included on the panel is Ekua Holmes (a prominent Boston artist who worked in the store from age 14-21). Ekua says "A Nubian Notion was family, whether you were a biological child or not. Malik especially let us know that he expected and desired great things for all of us. He could see and appreciate our individual talents and skills sometimes before we did."

Candelaria Silva (author and arts educator who brought shopping tours to the store) will moderate the panel. The audience is invited to bring memories to share.

About the Speaker Series

The History Speaker Series is a program of the Roxbury Historical Society, and co-sponsored by Haley House Bakery Café and Discover Roxbury. Shawmut Design and Construction is supporting the series.

The evening is free and open to the public. Dinner is available for sale from 5PM on. For more information call Haley House 617 445 0900, visit www.discoverroxbury.org or email roxburyhistory@gmail.com. Seating is limited

Contact Information

Roxbury Historical Society
183 Roxbury St Roxbury Ma 02119

Marcia Butman, Roxbury Historical Society
617 504 1871 / mbutman@gmail.com

Posted: April 16, 2013 Nancy J Conrad


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 12:06 PM

THANKS for the plug for our Nubian Notion event - it was a big success. 

Best, Bing Broderick from the Haley House.

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 2:51 PM

 I am honored to know most of the "iconic" Abdal Khallaq Family! I have been going into a Nubian Notion since the beginning.I used to "slap five" with Malik Abdal Khallaq at his barber shop on the corner of Humboldt Ave & Munroe Street, on my way to see Ernie Jones & Mother Jones (who still lives on Munroe St.)"back-in-tha-day!"

One day A Nubian Notion will be considered a Landmark Building" and a huge part of the "Afrocentric Flow" in the Dudley Street area and City of Boston.  God Bless the Abdal Khallaq Family and A Nubian Notion!

Charles "Poncho" Brown

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