Douglass Cooperatives

Douglass Cooperatives

DuBois' Cooperative Vision

Sociologist, historian and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois was a co-founder of the NAACP and one of most important thinkers of his time. He also viewed cooperative economics as a promising solution to racial economic inequality and a road to collective prosperity for African-Americans.

Du Bois came to this conclusion due the examples of African-American cooperation throughout history, which he examined in his 1898 book Some Efforts of American Negroes for their Own Social Betterment and in his comprehensive study Economic Cooperation among Negro Americans in 1907.

In 1918 DuBois founded the Negro Cooperative Guild to provide cooperative economics education and inspire Black leaders to start consumer cooperatives in their communities. One of the cooperatives inspired by the Guild was Citizens’ Co-operative Stores in Memphis, TN. Originally organized to operate co-op meat markets, the co-op turned out to be so popular that they sold double of the amount of shares they originally offered. By 1919, the Co-op was operating five stores serving 75,000 people.

Du Bois saw the African-American community as faced with a choice, “We unwittingly stand at the crossroads—should we go the way of capitalism and try to become individually rich as capitalists, or should we go the way of cooperatives and economic cooperation where we and our whole community could be rich together?”

The early years of the Twentieth Century saw a resurgence of interest in cooperative economic development in great part due to W.E.B. DuBois’ relentless propagation of the concept of collective economic emancipation. DuBois wrote, “Cooperatives would provide the economic opportunities denied to African Americans and would allow Blacks to serve the common good rather than be slaves to market forces.”

Douglass Cooperatives 

  • All employees receive equal share of tokens that are equal to one equal amount of votes.
  • All employees are equal partners. This ends the tug of war between wages and profits.
  • With collaborative and governance technology there can be a democratized economic life.
  • One vote/token for each worker would bring about the demise of share markets because shares would not be tradable they are only for voting.
  • One vote one token also allows for equal profit sharing.
  • All Coop are 5% co-owned by the FreedomTrain community.
  • 5% of each coops revenues are shared with the Beloved Community Asset pool.
  • Coop revenue shares are a part of FreedomTrain members monthly community dividend.
  • One share = one vote for all workers.This does not mean that everyone is paid the same.
  • Each share is = to the value of the Coop.
  • If member leaves Coop their share is redeemed for its value.
  • Share cannot be sold.
  • Every members receives a basic wage that is decided by a vote of the members.
  • Bonuses are decided by vote


Coop grants/start up funding



Profit sharing in Coops