Celebrating Our Diverse Co-operative History

To live out and fulfill the values and principles of our co-operative movement, we need to understand the diverse history of co-operative organizing and honor the struggles, celebrate the contributions, and recommit ourselves to the work of creating a more just and inclusive economy and society.

As co-operators, we need to work to share more stories of the history of co-operative enterprise in African American communities, explore the contribution of the co-operative movement to multiracial struggle for Civil Rights and economic democracy, and continue to challenge ourselves to live up to our values and principles. Across our region, food co-ops are engaging their members in this dialog, building relationships with community organizations focused on racial justice and voting rights, and working with their Neighboring Food Co-ops to share resources and ideas as we work to build a more just and inclusive economy and society.

On the national level, the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) is joining co-operators nationwide in celebrating the essential contributions of Black co-operators to our movement and amplifying the voices of today’s change makers, including recorded sessions from the 2020 Cooperative IMPACT Conference. Cooperatives have long been used as a tool to establish deep roots in communities and give everyone the opportunity to meaningfully participate in their society and economy. Black communities in particular have historically used cooperatives as a strategy for shared economic advancement in the face of incredible odds.

Interview with Cornelius Blanding, Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund

As part of this celebration, we are also sharing this interview with Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund. Conducted by NFCA Executive Director Erbin Crowell as part of the International Centre for Co-operative Management recent training on Member-centric Governance & Management, the interview explores the work of the Federation and its intersection with the movement from Civil Rights in the South, and the potential for co-operative associations to work together for greater justice.

The Challenge of Achieving Racial Equity

At NCBA CLUSA’s 2020 Co-op Impact Conference, professor and historian Jessica Gordon-Nembhard dispels the notion that “co-ops can’t be racist,” noting that the movement’s fundamental grounding in open membership and democratic member control are not enough to offset the cumulative effects of structural and institutional racism—particularly in the U.S.

Co-operatives Can Advance DEI: Lessons, Issues & Ways Forward

In this session from NCBA CLUSA’s 2020 Co-op Impact Conference, Moderated by National Cooperative Bank’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs John Holdsclaw IV, leaders from across the co-operative landscape discuss the state of diversity, equity and inclusion in the U.S. and the co-op movement, with a focus on how sectors are raising awareness, stimulating conversations and taking concrete steps to advance DEI work.