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BAG- Boston Action Group Angelica Coleman summarized this article from Chain of Change, by Mel King.


The Boston Action Group was created in order to apply pressure directly onto individual firms that excluded Black workers. They used direct action in order to affect the economic conditions in their communities. BAG was influenced by the success of a group of Philadelphia ministers who had told their congregation not to buy from companies that operated with discriminatory practices. Because of the selective buying approach, a large number of new jobs opened up the Black people in the community.

BAG printed leaflets to inform people about selective buying and took the time to explain the pros and cons of this approach. They spent four months knocking on doors, explaining selective buying, citing statistics about the economic status of a black worker, and organizing block captains for future distribution and information. This was called the information and education stage of the campaign.

When all the information had been sent out and the community was aware of the issue, BAG targeted Wonder Bread. 12% of their sales were made in the Black areas of Boston. BAG held a meeting with the personnel manager and found that out of their 250 workers, only eight were Black and they were all restricted to the production and baking plant. BAG approached the company and demanded that they hire 12 Black workers (5 driver-salesmen, one long distance driver, 4 clerks, and 2 bakery plant production employees). Wonder Bread reacted by saying that no jobs were currently available and within a month only one Black had been hired.


In response, BAG began mobilizing and ministers throughout Roxbury, the South End, and Dorchester urged their congregations to boycott Wonder Bread. Leaflets were sent out as well as letters to the block captains asking them to notify neighborhoods of the boycott to raise conciousness and they asked store owners to cancel their Wonder Bread orders. Those stores that refused to cancel the orders were also picketed. Boston Action Group sponsored a march “down through Dudley Street from Townsend Street with signs saying ‘Don’t Buy Wonder Bread.’ and “Boycott Wonder Bread." Within 29 days Wonder Bread hired 8 Blacks and promised to continue hiring more and positions became available.

BAG proved that selective buying could mobilize financial pressure to change the policy and hiring behavior of the company. Thanks to their heavy research, as well as reaching out to the community, they were effective in their methods. Shortly after, CORE launched a similar campaign after the First National Bank of Boston.


Source: King, Mel. Chain of Change:Striuggles for Black Community Development,Boston: South End Press, 1981, pages 48-51.

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