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Andy Shallal is a restauranteur, antiwar activist, and artist. He opened Busboys & Poets, a cafe whose name pays tribute to the poetry of Langston Hughes, on the U Street Corridor in 2005.

When I arrived at Busboys & Poets to film Mr. Shallal, I learned that he was running a few minutes late and decided to kill some time in the cafe’s bookstore. When Mr. Shallal arrived, he caught me reading Bill Cosby’s controversial “wake-up” to the black community Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors. Embarrassed to be caught reading Mr. Cosby’s embarrassing book, I tried to reshelve it, but could not find the section from whence it came. Mr. Shallal was gracious about the mix-up.

“Don’t worry,” Mr. Shallal said. “Just leave it on the counter.”