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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Ella Jo Baker Inducted to the Cooperative Hall of Fame

Ella Josephine Baker, a prominent leader of the civil rights movement, was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1903 and grew up in a close-knit African American community in Warren County, North Carolina where Black people pooled resources to help each other survive and thrive in the aftermath of slavery. An assertive and adventurous soul who experienced early on the benefits of a sharing economy, she worked with George Schuyler to power a new Black cooperative movement in this country at the age of 27. As one of the founding members of the Young Negroes’ Co-operative League (YNCL), and its National Director, she worked with others to promote cooperative economics to solve some of the economic devastation among African Americans that she was seeing on New York streets.

She deepened her knowledge of cooperatives after attending co-op training on a scholarship from the Cooperative League of the United States (CLUSA). Soon after, Baker spoke on “What Consumers’ Co-operation Means to Negro Women” at the first conference of YNCL, where one of the resolutions of the YNCL conference was “that we seek to bring women into the League on equal basis with men.”

Read the rest at the Cooperative Hall of Fame


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