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Black Owenites: Cooperation and the Long Civil Rights Movement
Sep 23, 2021 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm CDT
Although not widely recognized, there is a long history of African American experimentation with cooperatives modeled after Robert Owen’s utopian communities. In Mound Bayou, Mississippi, an all-black town modeled on Owen’s utopian ideas, cooperatives thrived and the town served as a refuge for Black activists throughout the civil rights movement. In the early twentieth century W.E.B. DuBois became a major proponent of cooperatives, founding the Negro Cooperative Guild in 1918 and traveling the country promoting them. With the advent of the Great Migration, activists worked to replicate southern rural and small town cooperatives in the urban North. Join Dr. Wolcott as she examines Robert Owen’s influence on the African American cooperative movement and explores its significance for the long civil rights movement.
Victoria W. Wolcott is Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. She has published two books: Remaking Respectability: African-American Women in Interwar Detroit (2001) and Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America (2012). Her new book Living in the Future: The Utopian Strain in the Long Civil Rights Movement, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Spring 2022. In addition, she has published articles in The Journal of American History, The Radical History Review, and the Journal of Women’s History among others.
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