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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Why Fannie Lou Hamer's Message and Fight Endure Today

Despite having limited material resources, Hamer was undeterred in her fight for economic justice. True to her belief that one must take tangible steps to change society, she came up with a practical solution for addressing hunger and malnutrition. In 1969, Hamer launched the Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC), a community-based rural and economic development project. With a donation of $10,000 from Measure for Measure, a charitable organization based in Wisconsin, Hamer purchased 40 acres in her hometown of Ruleville, Miss., with plans to develop the land to provide resources for local residents in need. A wide array of individuals and institutions contributed to Hamer’s Freedom Farm, including celebrity activist Harry Belafonte and leaders of the National Council of Negro Women—the largest Black women’s organization in the U.S. during the 1960s.

Hamer envisioned the cooperative as a means of empowering impoverished residents in the state, and the cooperative grew to over 640 acres. Locals could join Freedom Farm for $1 a month—though no one was ever turned away who could not pay. The FFC devoted some land to growing profitable crops such as cotton, but also set aside land for the growing of vegetables—including sweet potatoes, kale, tomatoes, and string beans—for community members, ensuring that residents had food and security.

Read the rest at Time


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