The Legacy of African Americans in Co-ops

Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard’s book Collective Courage was one of the most talked about books on cooperation last year. Dr. Gordon Nembhard broke new ground in both cooperative history and black history, drawing together dozens of sources and stories to paint a picture of the enduring history of black cooperation in the United States. LaDonna Redmond Sanders of Seward Co-op has a great post up expounding on some of the ideas in the book:

“Dr. Nembhard’s book is a continuation of the 1907 survey of African American cooperative efforts written by W.E.B. Du Bois. Du Bois discussed how African Americans used racial solidarity and economic cooperation in the face of discrimination and marginalization.

According to Dr. Nembhard, Du Bois differentiated cooperative economics from Black capitalism or buying Black. Du Bois focused on a “Black group economy” to insulate Blacks from continued segregation and marginalization. […]

Du Bois said that “we unwittingly stand at the crossroads—should we go the way of capitalism and try to become individually rich as capitalists, or should we go the way of cooperatives and economic cooperation where we and our whole community could be rich together?”

In this instance, Du Bois believed that economic cooperation could provide more than providers of goods or services, but also a philosophy or blueprint by which communities could be built or rebuilt.”

Read the whole article here, and if you’re in Minneapolis, make sure to sign up for LaDonna’s book group discussion of Collective Courage on Wednesday, 2/25.