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Collective Courage
A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice

Nembhard, Jessica Gordon
Publisher:  Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, USA
Date Written:  01/01/2014
Year Published:  2014  
Pages:  328pp   ISBN:  978-0-271-06216-7
Dewey:  330.90089/96073
Resource Type:  Book

In Collective Courage, Jessica Gordon Nembhard chronicles African American cooperative business ownership and its place in the movements for Black civil rights and economic equality.

Abstract:  Not since W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1907 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans has there been a full-length, nationwide study of African American cooperatives. Collective Courage extends that story into the twenty-first century. Many of the players are well known in the history of the African American experience: Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph and the Ladies' Auxiliary to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Jo Baker, George Schuyler and the Young Negroes’ Co-operative League, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party. Adding the cooperative movement to Black history results in a retelling of the African American experience, with an increased understanding of African American collective economic agency and grassroots economic organizing.

To tell the story, Gordon Nembhard uses a variety of newspapers, period magazines, and journals; co-ops’ articles of incorporation, minutes from annual meetings, newsletters, budgets, and income statements; and scholarly books, memoirs, and biographies. These sources reveal the achievements and challenges of Black co-ops, collective economic action, and social entrepreneurship. Gordon Nembhard finds that African Americans, as well as other people of color and low-income people, have benefitted greatly from cooperative ownership and democratic economic participation throughout the nation’s history.

Table of Contents:


Introduction: A Continuous and Hidden History of Economic Defense and Collective Well-Being

Part I: Early African American Cooperative Roots
1 Early Black Economic Cooperation: Intentional Communities, Communes, and Mutual Aid
2 From Economic Independence to Political Advocacy: Cooperation and the Nineteenth-Century Black Populist Movement
3 Expanding the Tradition: Early African American–Owned “Cooperative” Businesses

Part II: Deliberative Cooperative Economic Development
4 Strategy, Advocacy, and Practice: Black Study Circles and Co-op Education on the Front Lines
5 The Young Negroes’ Co-operative League
6 Out of Necessity: The Great Depression and “Consumers’ Cooperation Among Negroes”
7 Continuing the Legacy: Nannie Helen Burroughs, Halena Wilson, and the Role of Black Women
8 Black Rural Cooperative Activity in the Early to Mid-Twentieth Century

Part III: Twentieth-Century Practices, Twenty-First-Century Solutions
9 The Federation of Southern Cooperatives: The Legacy Lives On
10 Economic Solidarity in the African American Cooperative Movement: Connections, Cohesiveness, and Leadership Development

Time Line of African American Cooperative History, 1780–2012: Selected Events


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