Co-operative Economics & the Black Economy






3pm to 5.30pm

This webinar is now sold out.

People of African descent in the United States have a long and strong but largely hidden experience of co-operative ownership since at least the 1700s, and have had a quiet presence at times in the U.S. mainstream co-operative movement. What can we learn from this history and these experiences? We find that African Americans have used mutual aid and co-operatives for both survival and to gain economic well-being and independence; and that co-operative economics has been a hidden but integral aspect of the long civil rights movement in the USA. 

In this webinar, we’ll explore how subaltern populations use co-operative economics to address marginalisation, discrimination, and poverty; the importance of solidarity and trust in the sustainability of co-ops; the importance of organisational supports and connections between co-ops, religious and fraternal organisations, organised labour, populism and civil rights activism; and the role of Black women’s leadership in the co-operative movement. 

We’ll also learn how important internal and public education about co-operative economics and democratic economic participation are; as is measuring both the market and non-market benefits of co-operatives to their members and their communities.

  • Overview of the history of the African American mutual aid and co-operative movements
  • The importance of education and training in the African American co-operative movement
  • Roles of Black women and Black youth, and Black organisations, in the co-operative movement
  • Challenges of mutual aid and co-operative ownership, and strategies to address some of the challenges.
  • Understanding the legacies and principles of, and context for, Mutual Aid and Economic Cooperation, often forged in economic crises and built to withstand crises.
  • An understanding of how co-operatives are an important community economic development and solidarity economics strategy that addresses market failure and economic marginalisation.
  • Connections and commonalities between the Black co-operative movements in the US, UK, and Europe.
  • Anyone interested in working in Black communities to support community-owned and controlled economic activity.
  • Community activists looking to include economic alternatives and develop solidarity economies to address community challenges and develop genuine, sustainable community wellbeing.
  • Co-op developers or urban planners/community developers, and small business developers involved in or ready to start incubating co-operatives, especially worker cooperatives.
  • Young people and women challenged by the lack of economic models and opportunities that support and develop their leadership and well-being, as well as the well-being of their communities.

Author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice and 2016 inductee into the U.S. Cooperative Hall of Fame, Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, Ph.D., is Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies, John Jay College, City University of NY.

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