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Denver bookstore legend honored by community members

Louis Freeman founded the former Hue-Man Experience Book Store and TeaLee's TeaHouse in Five Points.

DENVER — Louis Freeman didn't believe in pictures. 

He used to tell Denver City Councilmember Candi CdeBaca that they stole your soul. 

He believed in making a difference, building businesses that best reflected culture and served their neighborhoods authentically.

"There's an African proverb that says, 'When we lose an elder, we lose a library,'" said Hasira "H-Soul" Ashemu about Freeman.

Freeman was the co-owner of what community members called one of the most important Black institutions in Denver: Hue-Man Experience Book Store, located in Five Points. The book store closed in 2003.

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"Single handedly, this bookstore raised the consciousness of an entire generation of this city," Ashemu wrote in a Facebook post. "My total LIFE trajectory was shifted by some of the books that I was told to purchase by...Mr. Freeman."

Freeman came out of retirement to open another book store called TeaLee's TeaHouse in Five Points. 

"He was an example," Ashemu said. "It wasn't just enough for him to give us a book about it or guide us to a book about it, he made his life a living example by coming out of retirement at his age and opening up an institution and putting this institution in our community for us to continue to learn from."

"He was just someone who reminded me every single time I stepped in there what I'm fighting for, who I'm fighting for and how to do it with grace, how to do it in a way that makes people feel loved and important," CdeBaca said.

The bookshop is still open. Community organizers asked the community to continue supporting the business, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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