The main principle of a cooperative organization is to give ownership to the people who use its services. Every member has a say in how the business is run and shares the profits.
But for African-American communities in the United States, cooperative economics have also historically been a method of survival.
Records from the antebellum South show instances in which many slaves would pool their money in order to buy freedom for a few. Today, organizations like co-op grocery stores serve as a source of healthy foods in areas that would otherwise be classified as food deserts.
Jessica Gordon Nembhard's book "Collective Courage" (Penn State University Press/2014) tells the largely unknown story of African-American cooperative economics from slavery to the present day.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Nembhard, an associate professor in the Department of Africana Studies at City University of New York, and John Jones, president of the board of directors for Renaissance Community Coop in Greensboro.