Throughout the history of the United States, Black people have used cooperative economics to support each other and our communities. From mutual aid societies in the early 18th century, to women-run collective farms on abandoned plantations during the Civil War, to the cooperatives associated with civil rights activism, Black people have used cooperative economics to withstand hardship and create alternative to a financial system we were often locked out of. (These and many more examples can be found in Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice by Jessica Gordon Nembhard).
In 2021, we find ourselves in the midst of a dual economic and health crisis, which is impacting the wealth and stability of Black families and communities at a disproportionate rate. We are at a time of expanded organizing against racism and other oppressions. The time is ripe for us to return to the wisdom of our past with fresh eyes, new tools, and novel opportunities.