Black farmers in America have had a long and arduous struggle to own land and to operate independently. For more than a century after the Civil War, deficient civil rights and various economic and social barriers were applied to maintaining a system where many blacks worked as farm operators with a limited and often total lack of opportunity to achieve ownership and operating independence. Diminished civil rights also limited collective action strategies, such as cooperatives and unions. Even so, various types of cooperatives, including farmer associations, were organized in black farming communities prior to the 1960s. During the 1960s, the civil rights movement brought a new emphasis on cooperatives. Leaders and organizations adopted an explicit purpose and role of black cooperatives in pursuing independent farming. Increasingly, new technology and integrated contracting systems are diminishing independent decision-making in the management of farms. As this trend expands, more cooperatives may be motivated, with a determination similar to those serving black farmers, to pursue proactive strategies for maintaining independent farming.