Consumption parallel with Civil Rights

     Historian Lizabeth Cohen emphasizes the connection between consumption and the civil rights movement by documenting the power held by the African-Americans as they took their place in the “consumer’s republic”. The civil rights movement was a direct effect of the patterns of consumption which the African-American worker as a voice for equality.

     Cohen discusses the role of the African-Americans in terms of organization and activism, central to the civil rights agenda.  She highlights such groups such as the Sleeping Car Porters’ Ladies Auxiliaries (50), and the influence women held in spending for their households. These neighborhood leagues were a great influence on organized rallies and marches. This would be the beginning of the plight for equality of consumerism.

    Another influence during the 1950’s was the noted advantages which the black veterans held in terms of the GI Bill as “fuel for the civil rights movement(172)”, allowed families purchasing power for homes in neighborhoods not usually market for non-whites.  The victories the African-American population were gaining fueled the civil rights activists as white rights were being tested across the South.  Black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. fulfilled the role of   organizing  community awareness in the disparity of equality in terms of buying power and education. 

  The role of race and economics was exposed during the civil rights movement gave African-Americans the leverage needed to put up a stronghold on the economy by striking and boycotting. They had clearly figured out the system, a system which only recognized one color: green.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. agreco71
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 03:28:15

    I like how you included women’s roles in the influence of spending in the households. Many times when we think of Civil Rights and individual minority groups attaining more status in society we forget the struggles women had in this era. I plan on included that point as I add to my Cohen post! Thanks.


  2. kjroberson
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 03:14:10

    I also appreciate how you brought in the idea of the GI bill and how that helped to propel the African American ahead in society. Many times we do not connect the dots to see how one concession despite non-equal treatment has futuristic results that can benefit a group of people. As the African Americans signed up for military service despite their inequalities, their act of courage gave them fuel for their fight, and their pay gave them financial leverage.


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