Photo of Mandela Foods Cooperative, courtesy of Jessica Gordon Nembhard.
For National Co-op Month, we present a three-part series from an interview with Jessica Gordon Nembhard. Read the first piece, Black Cooperative Economics During Enslavement, here and the second piece, on how the cooperatives were critical partners to struggles throughout African-American history, here.
When I first became interested in cooperative economics, everybody, Black and white, told me that Black people just don’t engage in cooperative economics. But that didn’t seem right to me. So I started studying it, talking to people about it, and participating in the US co-op movement. I found there were hardly any Blacks involved, except when they were in agricultural cooperatives in the South. None of the mainstream co-op literature talked about Black co-ops, and yet I was sure that African-Americans must have been involved.