Ed Whitfield: Racial Justice Meets Non-Extractive Financing [Ep. 77]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.

Ed Whitfield is Co-­founder and Co­-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities. He is a long time social justice, anti ­ war and community activist. After graduating as a Presidential Scholar from Little Rock Central High School in the late 60s, he went on to Cornell University where he became the leader of the Black student organization during the period of struggle for Black Studies.

Ed is deeply involved in theorizing and promoting the development of cooperative enterprises in marginalized communities in the south. He helped to create the Southern Reparations Loan Fund to finance sustainable, democratically owned and democratically controlled businesses in communities that do not attract capital due to racist and extractive banking and investment practices.

Ed is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Southern Reparations Loan Fund, on the Advisory Board of the Florida Dream Defenders and serves on the boards of the New Economy Coalition (NEC) and The Working World (TWW). In his free time he build and plays flutes and bass guitars and plays guitar and sings the blues.


Some highlights from Shawn’s interview with Ed include:

  • Ed's circuitous 50 year path as an activist from witnessing lynch mobs in the streets where he grew up to impact investing

  • Examining the idea of “productive justice” – who owns the capacity to produce and how can we create more opportunities for people to be fully productive

  • How most of the social justice issues have economic issues at their root

  • How philanthropy is an afterthought of extraction

  • The notion of “commons thinking” and creating a “financial commons” and how the Southern Reparations Loans Fund attempts to build momentum toward this end

  • How the Renaissance Community Cooperative arose from the cracks and what the Southern Reparations Loan Fund & The Working World are offering non-extractive lending and other support in the face of systemic and structural racism








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Shawn Berry is a Partner at LIFT Economy, where he works as an organizational strategist inspired to harness the power of business to create resilient local economies as patterns to be documented, open sourced, scaled globally and adapted regionally.  LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. You can follow Shawn on Twitter @sd_berry or email him shawn@lifteconomy.com.