How Co-ops Helped Produce Foot Soldiers for Civil Rights

I’ve been wondering about that, too. And in fact one of the things I found is that there’s more of a connection between black cooperatives and civil rights than there is between black cooperatives and capitalism. I think there’re a couple of reasons. In the U.S. co-ops are often linked with hippies, communism or socialism and back in the 1950s, just after the McCarthy era, black leaders knew they couldn’t talk about either and be listened to. So there was an official avoidance of the subject of co-ops. Second, there was a lot of resistance from capitalists. White unions in the late 1800s were being sabotaged and certainly blacks got the same resistance as well because co-ops gave them more economic control and power. So by necessity, even if you were involved in co-ops it had to be as clandestine as possible. And third, people, including many blacks, just wouldn’t accept civil rights if it included language about economic rights.

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