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Gateway to EqualityBlack Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis$
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Keona K. Ervin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168838

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168838.001.0001

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“The Fight against Economic Slavery”

“The Fight against Economic Slavery”

Clerks and Youth Activism in the Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work Movement

(p.79) 3 “The Fight against Economic Slavery”
Gateway to Equality

Keona K. Ervin

University Press of Kentucky

The short-lived though influential Colored Clerks’ Circle (CCC) was a black youth organization that used boycotts and picket lines to win jobs at drugstores located in black communities. Formed in 1937, the CCC combined black self-determination, notions of economic nationalism, and consumer power to address the unemployment crisis plaguing black youths. Instead of conceptualizing black economic power through the figure of the black housewife, a method employed by the St. Louis Housewives’ League in the early 1930s, the CCC positioned politically actualized black young women as facilitators of racial leadership and racial progress. Moreover, CCC members made the argument that community change became evident and meaningful when young black women found dignity through employment.

Keywords:   Colored Clerks’ Circle, St. Louis Housewives’ League, Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work, Black economic self-determination, Black working-class women

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