Cooperatives and People of Color

with Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Ed Whitfield, and Helen Godfrey Smith

A reception was held at the Kheprw Institute in Indianapolis after the close of the ICDC Conference "Cooperatives and People of Color," held at the Indiana Farm Bureau on October 20, 2016. Speakers at the conference included Co-op Hall of Fame inductee Jessica Gordon Nembhard, who was an honored guest at the reception.

The Kheprw Institute (KI) is a community organization run by a diverse staff of young adults and seniors, many of whom were participants in the conference. Among the KI Initiatives is KI NuMedia, a youth media cooperative that offers video, web development, graphic design, and communications services.

KI NuMedia videotaped the conference sessions, which included presentations by Ed Whitfield of Fund for Democratic Communities and Renaissance Food Co-op in Greensboro, North Caroliina; Rev. Frankie Morton from Mayfield Green Cooperative housing in Indianapolis; and Helen Godfrey Smith, President & CEO, Shreveport Federal Credit Union in Mississippi.

  • The mission of the Kheprw Institute: (KI) is a community organization run by a diverse staff of young adults and seniors who are innovative, passionate and dedicated to creating a more just, equitable, human-centered, environmentally sustainable world. We are community members, artist, engineers, activist, entrepreneurs, critical thinkers, leaders, students, parents and youth. We believe in community empowerment through self-mastery. Self-Mastery—a commitment to self to continually develop attitudes and behaviors that allow one to positively impact self and community.

More on Cooperatives and People of Color

Co-ops have the potential to create jobs, empower individuals and strengthen communities.  This business model can provide a path toward more self-sufficiency and greater economic potential.  The conference will highlight the impact that African Americans, Hispanics, and Latinos have had on the cooperative movement in this country and showcase their successes in the cooperative movement. 

Jessica Gordon Nembhard’s book, Collective Courage, illustrates that African Americans have a long and strong history of cooperative ownership, especially in reaction to market failures and economic racial discrimination. It is mostly a hidden history and complicated by economic marginalization, and thwarted by racial discrimination and white supremacist violence. Against adversity, the African American community has created a legacy of cooperation that still exists. The earliest efforts built communal ways of supporting each other, and built the foundation for formal businesses. These efforts enriched many during the ebb and flow of US co-op history throughout which African Americans have been contributors.

Jessica shared details about her book and the enormous contributions made by African Americans in the cooperative movement. Cooperators from Louisiana, to Michigan to North Carolina to Georgia also shared the impact that cooperatives have had on their lives and the communities in which they live.

The agenda included presenters from:

  • Cooperation Jackson (Jackson, MS)
  • The Cooperation Group (Detroit, MI) 
  • New Era Windows (Chicago, IL)
  • Sustainergy (Cinncinati, OH) 
  • Adam Lee, Filene Research Institute 
  • Andy Fraizer, Executive Director, IACED – co-host

Questions? Contact Debbie Trocha, Indiana Cooperative Development Center
317-692-7707
[email protected]

The Indiana Cooperative Development Center and the Indiana Association for Community Development (IACED) organized the event at the Indiana Farm Bureau in Indianapolis. The cost, only $25, included lunch. 

Sponsors for the event were Indiana Farm BureauKheprw InstituteNCBUSDA-RDCDFThe Cooperative FoundationNCBA-CLUSA

See also: Professor Jessica Gordon Nembhard Inducted into the Co-op Hall of Fame

Helen Godfrey Smith on You Tube 

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