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You Can't Eat FreedomSoutherners and Social Justice After the Civil Rights Movement$
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Greta de Jong

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469629308

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469629308.001.0001

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Okra Is a Threat

Okra Is a Threat

The Low-Income Cooperative Movement

(p.88) Chapter 4 Okra Is a Threat
You Can't Eat Freedom

Greta de Jong

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the rise of the low-income cooperative movement and the opportunities it offered for rural poor people to take charge of their economic destiny. In response to layoffs and evictions, activists formed cooperative enterprises that provided employment to displaced workers. Cooperatives represented an attempt to establish a measure of economic independence for rural poor people and thus facilitate political participation in a region where many African Americans still feared losing their homes or livelihoods if they tried to challenge the social order. Creating black-owned businesses founded on cooperative principles also demonstrated that alternatives existed to capitalist economic structures that exploited and then discarded black labor. Despite some internal weaknesses and hostility from white supremacists that hindered their effectiveness, cooperatives showed significant promise as a model for alleviating rural poverty.

Keywords:   Black-owned businesses, Cooperative movement, Cooperatives, Displaced workers, Economic development

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