11 Times Radical Women Saved The Black Cooperative Movement

Blexit believes the Black Cooperative movement is the most powerful vehicle in confronting and subverting capitalism and the harmful circumstances it has brought upon our community. Black women have always been at the forefront of our movements and the cooperative movement is no different. Let's take time to lift up radical women who forged paths and paved ways for the Black cooperative movement and bravely upheld the principles of the cooperative way with fire, fury and magic.

  1. When the Combahee River Collective released their statement on Black Feminism
    Combahee River Collective

    As Black women we see Black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face.

  2. When Fannie lou Hamer formed the Freedom Farm Cooperative
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    The time has come now when we are going to have to get what we need ourselves. We may get a little help, here and there, but in the main we’re going to have to do it ourselves.

  3. When LaDonna Redmond ignighted an urban farming movement on Chicago's West Side

    My husband and I started urban farming in our backyard and it grew from getting vacant lots to developing urban farm sites and selling food at farmers markets. That was the beginning of my work of rebuilding local food systems, first around my neighborhood and now around the country.

  4. When Jessica Gordon Nembhard released Collective Courage and taught us of our Glorious Cooperative History

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    I actually named the book “Collective Courage” partly because of that, because it was actually physically, as well as economically, dangerous to participate in economic alternatives. And as you mentioned, the white terrorism or white supremacist violence actually surrounded almost every effort for African American co-op development.

  6. When Harriet Tubman used cooperative strategy to build the underground railroad.
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    I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.

  7. When Ella Baker understood the value of a leaderful movement.
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    When Ella helped spark the beginning of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), she did so because she was discouraged by the egotism among the older, exclusively male leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference... She knew it was a mistake to make one person, no matter how principled, intelligent, or charismatic, the central focus of a movement.

  8. When Celeta Hickman founded Ujaama Collective
    Celeta Hickman

    Black women, entrepreneurs, acting in unity for the benefit of the individual entrepreneur, the collective and the community. Integral to this concept was the inclusion of a green marketplace that would benefit the community physically, economically, socially and spiritually.

  9. When Carol Zippert founded the FOGCE Federal Credit Union
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    The credit union began in 1975 with 25 members and less than $10,000 in assets and has grown to 848 members and $1.4 million in assets. This is a great achievement for a Black owned financial institution in one of the smallest and poorest counties in Alabama.

  10. When adrienne maree brown taught us about the cooperative way through, Black Sci-Fi, pleasure activism and emergent strategy
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    Emergent strategy is how we intentionally change in ways that grow our capacity to embody the just and liberated worlds we long for.

  11. When Helena Wilson created the Colored Women’s Economic Council which became part of the coalition known as The Ladies Auxiliary

    Colored Women’s Economic Council organized wives of porters, maids and relatives with the purpose of educating the community about trade unionism...Wilson and members of the Economic Council [were] a critical voice for the Brotherhood in the labor organizing process.

  12. When Amy Jacques Garvey co-founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association
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    We are becoming so impatient that we are getting in the front ranks, and serve notice on the world...and with prayer on our lips and arms prepared for any fray, we will press on and on until victory is over.

Who are your coop sheroes? Share them with us during Women's History Month and all year long! Tweet us @blexitmn and use the hashtag #coopshero

Check out ABEP's Executive Committee team, comprised (almost) entirely of Black women who are working to establish a Black led credit union on Minneapolis' Northside.

Pictured: Amber Jones, Danielle Mkali, Elaine Rasmussen, Me'Lea Connelly, Felicia Perry (and Ron Harris).



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