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

Nembhard, Jessica Gordon
Date Written:  2014-01-01
Publisher:  Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, USA
Year Published:  2014
Pages:  328pp   ISBN:  978-0-271-06216-7
  Dewey:  330.90089/96073
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX16483

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.

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

Subject Headings

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