Online book store in Florida aims to give Black authors greater opportunities | Opinion

“We launched the store with 11 writers, whose books will be sold from the store,” Rosemary Cole said of Cobeth Online Book Store, newly established in Margate.

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All too often, I fill this space with the ills of the world. While it is necessary to know and comment on what is happening in the world around us, there is so much more than the ugliness that so often surrounds us.

There is beauty. And new beginnings. And hope.

On July 23, beauty, a new beginning and lots of hope abounded as Rosemarie Cole, Arnetha Thomas and Carla Bennett, co-owners of Cobeth Online Book Store, launched the store in Margate, Florida.

When I spoke to Cole, the spokesperson for the owners, she could hardly contain herself. The bookstore is a dream come true, she said, and came into being at the encouragement of Dr. Ralph Hogges, a minister, retired professor and prolific writer. Hogges, Dr. Ben Cowin and Dr. Delores Smiley, are co-founders of the 75-member, all-black Writers Group.

On July 23, beauty, a new beginning and lots of hope abounded as Rosemarie Cole, Arnetha Thomas and Carla Bennett, co-owners of Cobeth Online Book Store, launched the store in Margate.

“We launched the store with 11 writers, whose books will be sold from the store,” Cole said. One of the writers is 10-year-old Klarke Cowin, the preteen granddaughter of Cowin. Her book is entitled “Klarke’s Little Blue Duckie”, a paperback that costs $18.99.

It wasn’t that long ago that Hogges, who also serves as a mentor to local writers, challenged the writers to “… Create your own online bookstore.” He told the writers group, that an online bookstore would “… provide writers and authors of color the opportunity to become more self-reliant and economically independent. Ownership is power and partnership provides the powerful equalizer that enables successful entrepreneurs of color.”

Cole, a wife, mother, grandmother, and the self-published author of “The Playground Bully” and “A Call to Repentance,” took Hogges’ advice. She then brainstormed with two other writers in the group – Arnetha Thomas and Carla Bennett, who liked the idea and joined forces with her.

Cole said that after praying over the idea she decided to take Hogges’ challenge. “Then,” she said, “I late Dr. Hogges an email, telling him of my interest of not wanting to regret, 10 years from now, not having acted on the opportunity.”

“You are the first member of the group to respond to the challenge,” Hogges told Cole. He later sent a second email to challenge more members to partner with Cole. Thomas also took the challenge.

Like Cole, Thomas is a mother and grandmother, and is semi-retired. Her self-published works include “Sometimes Here, There and Everywhere” a children’s storybook and workbook, and Christian books that include “Get Through, Going Through Life,” published by Page Publishing.

Bennett joined Cole and Thomas, completing the trio of owners. The group used two letters of their last names to come up with the name of their online bookstore.

“Our launch day was awesome,” Cole said. “We started with 11 authors who came on board with us to sell their books. We are very excited about the future of our venture.”

Hogges said the online bookstore is a great tool for Black writers. “All too often traditional publishers are reluctant to publish the works of writers of color. Therefore, we often self-publish our books. And white bookstores typically refuse to sell our books,” he said.

“My philosophy is that we need to stop depending on others to do for us, what we can do for ourselves, specifically regarding bookstores. We should become literary entrepreneurs and create our own bookstores, especially online bookstores given the opportunity that technology has provided to us.”

For more information about Cobeth Online Bookstore, go to the website

New spiritual leader at Bet Shira Congregation

Rabbi Jesse Charyn

Warm, belated congratulations to Rabbi Jesse Charyn, who on July 1, became the new spiritual leader at Bet Shira Congregation in South Dade.

Charyn, a noted speaker, teacher, chaplin, outdoor enthusiast and dedicated Jewish leader, has diverse religious experience. He was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., and attended Young Judea’s Year Course in Israel before making Aliyah (immigration) to Israel and serving in the Israel Defense Force’s Golani Special Forces from 2003-2006. He is also a Birthright Fellow and has staffed several Birthright Israel trips.

According to Bet Shira President Steven Goldstein, the congregation is “… delighted to welcome Rabbi Charyn to Bet Shira. He has impressed us with his spirituality, his energy and his personal magnetism. In his first few weeks with us, he has already demonstrated a special impact on our congregation with his immediate influence on our prayer services, Torah study, religious education for children and social programs.”

A graduate of Arizona State University, Charyn did his post-graduate studies at the Ziegler School for Rabbinic Studies, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Conservative Yeshiva, and Arizona State University.

He previously served as Rabbi/Director of Spiritual Care at Miami Jewish Health Systems.

Charyn said his family is his greatest achievement. He and Shira, his wife of 12 years, are the parents of three daughters, Rayna, 4, and twins Navah and Zivah, 2.

Seenagers & Babyboomers tour coming up

If you are a seenager (an energetic senior citizen), or a baby boomer who enjoys traveling, the Seenagers & Babyboomers led by Dorothy Heard invites you to travel with them as they tour Historic Savannah, Jekyll Island and Beaufort, South Carolina on Oct. 10-14.

In addition to touring the historic sites, participants will also visit the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, where pews that were built by slaves are displayed.

The cost of the five-day, four-night tour is $599, and is due by Aug. 17. The cost includes meals, hotels, and transportation.

For more information call Heard at 305-965-8205 or email her at DHPPIG@ATT.NET.

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Bea Hines can be reached at


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