African-American cooperativism

Ongoing examples

Historical examples


  • DuBois, W.E.B. “Economic Co-operation among Negro Americans.” Atlanta, GA: The Atlanta University Press, 1907.
  • Gordon Nembhard, Jessica. “Benefits and Impacts of Cooperatives.” White paper. February 2014.
  • Gordon Nembhard, Jessica. Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
  • Gordon Nembhard, Jessica. “Principles and Strategies for Reconstruction: Models of African American Community-Based Cooperative Economic Development.” Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy 12 (2006).
  • Miles, Michael. “Black Cooperatives.” The New Republic. September 21, 1968.
    • In the midst of a major economic crisis for black farmers, “there has grown up a baby movement of black cooperatives. One of the first was Southern Consumers in Lafayette, La,, which was founded in 1961 by a black priest. Father Albert McKnight, and now has 12,000 members throughout southern Louisiana. Most of the cooperatives, however, have arisen since that time out of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. And have taken form as a discernible movement only in the last two years with some strategic financial assistance from OEO and the Ford Foundation, Today there are some 40 of these cooperatives, democratically controlled by a membership of 12,000families, most of whom live in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana.”
    • “The most celebrated of the black cooperatives is the Southwest Alabama Farmers Cooperative Association (SWAFCA) which was organized in the Alabama Black Belt last year by veterans ofthe Selma march.”
    • Tells the story of the cucumber trucks getting stopped on the road in the hot sun.
    • “The dynamics of the co-op’s economic growth has created political power. This power has in turn channeled a flow of Federal agriculture money into the organization, thus improving its economic potential.”
    • “On the same day that the Department of Agriculture had its doors locked against possible invasion by the troops of the Poor People’s Campaign, representatives of SWAFCA and its Washington allies negotiated with Agriculture officials in Orville Freeman’s office.”
    • Describes “Crawfordville Enterprises, a community corporation with a democratically elected board of directors (with the stipulation that one-third be employees of the enterprise and one-third be non-residents selected for technical competence). Initially capitalized by private sources and since funded by OEO, Crawfordville has operated on a budget of $350,000, manufacturing pants and shirts for Shirley of Atlanta, and sponsoring a community development program including various social services.”
    • The dilemmas of federal loans; “One of the more substantial black cooperatives, the Poor People’s Corp. of Jackson, Miss., has solved the problem in its own way. It has refused Federal money.”
    • “Black cooperatives are chiefly in need of capital and technical assistance. The formation of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives will go some distance in this direction by providing funds for loan guarantees and technical assistance in accounting, credit management, agricultural economy and marketing.”
  • Reynolds, Bruce J. Black Farmers in America, 1865-2000: The Pursuit of Independent Farming and the Role of Cooperatives. United States Department of Agriculture, 2002.
  • Willoughby, Jean and Sam Hyson. “Reflecting on _Black Farmers in America, 1865-2000.” In New Farmer's Almanac 2015. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015.