Dr Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Africana Studies Dept Chair, John Jay College, discusses women in Co-ops


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In celebration of National Women’s History Month, Everything Co-op honors women in the cooperative movement. The 2019 theme for Women’s History Month is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.” This week Vernon interviews a visionary woman, Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard,

Dr. Gordon Nembhard is Chair of the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College, City University of New York, and Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development. She is also author of “Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice.” Mr. Oakes and Dr. Gordon Nembhard discuss the role that African American women have played in the cooperative movement, and the contributions of Nannie Helen Burroughs, Helena Wilson, Freedom Quilting Bee, Ella Jo Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Young Negroes Cooperatives league.

Dr. Gordon Nembhard, is a cooperative ambassador, political economist and community economic development expert. She is also an Affiliate Scholar, at the Centre for the Study of Cooperatives, at the University of Saskatchewan. After 15 years of careful research, she published “Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice”. Her book argues that co-ops not only should be, but have historically been a social justice tool within African American communities.

Dr. Gordon Nembhard stated that is very concerned about the lack of succession planning in the African American cooperative communities. During the interview she further notes that, although her research revealed that cooperatives were used as a solution to the community problems that arose in every generation, it was Not usually because the same organizations remained open. That said, during her final comments she states that education is a key factor to ensure that future generations can learn from the advancements of present generation with regards to cooperatives. In the African American cooperative communities we have to pass on the education, documentation and enthusiasm to our next generation to strengthen our communities.

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