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Cooperative Economics and Civil Rights

Cooperative economics and civil rights don’t often appear together in our history books, but they should! From the mutual aid societies that bought enslaved people’s freedom to the underground railroad network that brought endangered blacks to the north, cooperative structures were key to evading the repression of white supremacy. And they was a vicious backlash when Black co-ops threatened the status quo.

“The white economic structure depended on all of these blacks having to buy from the white store, rent from the white landowner. They were going to lose out if you did something alternatively,” Jessica Gordon Nembhard,  author of Collective Courage: A History of African-American Economic Thought and Practice tells GRITtv’s Laura Flanders this week.

Collective Courage comes out in May, and will be available for purchase here. For more on worker co-ops, check out our interviews from the New York City hearing on worker co-operatives. For more on co-ops in the black community, read our latest Commonomics piece on late Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s vision. Stay tuned for our coverage of the Jackson Rising conference next month.

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