ATLANTA — Ormond Ashby bounces into the unheated, under-construction home of Café ULUon a chilly January day with a bayonet saw and an air of enthusiasm. The 76-year-old retiree is here to help to build a stage for the new worker-owned café.
“Economics is the only way to have an impact in this world today,” says Ashby, a grandfather of seven and great-grandfather of one. Through his many lives as an American worker—spanning companies like IBM and Mercedez-Benz—he has donated his skills and hard-earned pay to black self-reliance initiatives of the Nation of Islam, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others.
Now, he is one of more than 450 people of African descent across the United States and Europe investing their savings, retirement income and spare time in the Us Lifting Us Economic Development Cooperative, from which Café ULU takes its name. The cooperative aims to build what many black leaders have long seen as necessary: a black-led alternative to the white-controlled and dominated capitalist system.
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