Enrico Beltramini

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Operation Breadbasket was a Southern Christian Leadership Conference project that was founded in 1962, and was dedicated to improving the economic conditions of black communities across the United States. This thesis shows how the economic agenda of the early Operation Breadbasket –to facilitate integration in the workplace – gave way to its later counterpart which embraced a friendlier attitude toward capitalism and was more solicitous of the black middle class. In particular, this thesis identifies the personalities and events responsible for this transformation while pointing to the broader trends in American capitalism that made the advocacy of workplace integration increasingly less important than access to capital and mass consumption. Since there is not a dedicated study on Operation Breadbasket, this thesis begins to fill that gap in historiography.
Drawing on archival research and original oral histories collected through interviews with veterans, this thesis reconsiders Jesse Jackson’s historical role in the success of Operation Breadbasket as an empowerment organization enlarging economic opportunities for black workers and entrepreneurs. In particular, it argues that Operation Breadbasket was a remarkable program that contributed to the convergence of the Black Church-driven Civil Rights Movement and the activist-based Black Power struggle in the economic arena. To fully appreciate the transformation of Operation Breadbasket’s activities from a more traditional Civil Rights program pursuing job desegregation to a militant, innovative campaign addressing issues such as black business development, the more recent scholarly work on Black Power and its intersection with the Civil Right Movement has been taken into account.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Kirk, John, Supervisor
Award date1 Oct 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


  • operation breadbasket
  • jesse jackson
  • S.C.L.C.
  • economic rights

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