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The Poor People’s Corporation: Economic and Political Empowerment for Freedom

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Abstract:

Economic pressures limited the potential impact of the 1965 Voting Rights Act for many black Mississippians. By late 1965, Mississippi employers were still regularly terminating employees for civil rights activism and political participation. The Poor People’s Corporation was established to help such individuals, and hundreds of black Mississippians joined the organization during the late 1960s. It supplied start-up grants and skills training to cooperatives that produced goods, such as wallets or dolls, to be sold through the Poor People’s Corporation distribution center in Jackson. These sales facilitated economic empowerment and political independence for members of the Poor People’s Corporation, who no longer had to rely on often racist private employers for their livelihood.
The Poor People’s Corporation was an impressive example of a Black Power initiative that existed before Stokely Carmichael’s famous 1966 call in Greenwood, Mississippi. The study of this organization impacts traditional Black Power thought due to its focus on rural areas and women. Almost all Poor People’s Corporation members were female. In commenting on Black Power historiography, this paper also seeks to situate the women of the Poor People’s Corporation within the historiographies of black working-class activism, and the “long civil rights movement.”
The story of the Poor People’s Corporation has yet to be told. The organization, which preceded the public cry for “Black Power” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, deserves scholarly attention, and this paper will begin to help rescue the organization from history, while engaging the most recent literature in relevant fields.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435327_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Sturkey, William. "The Poor People’s Corporation: Economic and Political Empowerment for Freedom" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, Sep 29, 2010 <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435327_index.html>

APA Citation:

Sturkey, W. , 2010-09-29 "The Poor People’s Corporation: Economic and Political Empowerment for Freedom" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435327_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Economic pressures limited the potential impact of the 1965 Voting Rights Act for many black Mississippians. By late 1965, Mississippi employers were still regularly terminating employees for civil rights activism and political participation. The Poor People’s Corporation was established to help such individuals, and hundreds of black Mississippians joined the organization during the late 1960s. It supplied start-up grants and skills training to cooperatives that produced goods, such as wallets or dolls, to be sold through the Poor People’s Corporation distribution center in Jackson. These sales facilitated economic empowerment and political independence for members of the Poor People’s Corporation, who no longer had to rely on often racist private employers for their livelihood.
The Poor People’s Corporation was an impressive example of a Black Power initiative that existed before Stokely Carmichael’s famous 1966 call in Greenwood, Mississippi. The study of this organization impacts traditional Black Power thought due to its focus on rural areas and women. Almost all Poor People’s Corporation members were female. In commenting on Black Power historiography, this paper also seeks to situate the women of the Poor People’s Corporation within the historiographies of black working-class activism, and the “long civil rights movement.”
The story of the Poor People’s Corporation has yet to be told. The organization, which preceded the public cry for “Black Power” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, deserves scholarly attention, and this paper will begin to help rescue the organization from history, while engaging the most recent literature in relevant fields.


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