A Consumers’ Republic Part 1

In the book it is clear that the author shows that consumption played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. The spending power that the African Americans had was powerful and could affect the white business. The African Americans held a lot of control and to keep the circulation and prosperity going in the black communities they would keep spending money in black owned business (Cohen, 42). With the price controls being watched so closely in the white areas, the watch on the black communities was almost none existent which brought more turmoil to the government when the black women started to organize and demand the same rights as other.

Even in the military the African Americans were segregated and could not get the same rights as the whites. They could not eat in the same restaurants, drink in the same bars, or even have the same base privileges as the whites. These men though would take advantage just like the rest of the military men, when it came to the benefits they would receive after the war. As seen in the clip from tonight, the blacks were trying to fight the whites for the same type of living and “American Dream” that was provided.

 Sit in and marches on Washington would begin and the civil rights that the blacks wanted they would receive. The African Americans had money just like the whites, and would fight to have the same price ceiling, rent control, and others. “African – American citizen consumers, the goal was as much to claim equal citizenship as to consume material goods and services (Cohen, 100). They didn’t want special treatment they just wanted the same rights as every other consumer that was trying to do their civil duty at the time.

Since the government and all of society kept putting out that consuming the goods that had been produced would keep the nation thrieving, the African Americans believed they should be treated the same. It was nice to see though that the women organizations did team up with the blacks to take on some of the challenges. This does show that a common goal was seen.

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3 Responses to A Consumers’ Republic Part 1

  1. Mario Arellano says:


    In posting my response, I focused on the importance of boycotts and the impact boycotts would have on future generations. However, going back to your comment about African Americans possessing the same means to be consumers in America, or that they had money too, I got to thinking about the idea of racial superiority. If blacks boycott white businesses, and whites, realizing they’re losing money decided to allow for African American consumerism to enjoy equal opportunities, are blacks keeping themselves oppressed? I guess what I am trying to say is that African Americans who spent money at white establishments continued to promote the idea of racial superiority for white Americans. Let me know if this doesn’t make sense because it was kind of hard to put in words.

  2. Karin says:

    Your statement, “They didn’t want special treatment they just wanted the same rights as every other consumer that was trying to do their civil duty at the time.” is accurate but I find the whole mindset, that in order to do one’s “civic duty” meant one had to become a consumer, selling the American Dream concept and sucking citizens into a whole new type of lifestyle for most people. The bonding of women’s organizations and African-Americans in pursuit of these consumer goals was interesting, as there were similar bonds during the mid to late 1800’s with the topics of suffrage and abolitionism.

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