Ralph Paige has dedicated his life to helping people through cooperatives.
He joined the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in 1969 as a grass-roots
organizer and became its Executive Director in 1985. Under his guidance the
Federation has developed more than 200 units of low-income housing, 18 community
credit unions, 75 cooperatives, and an award-winning rural training center.
In addition, it has been the primary organization representing Black farmers
and fighting the precipitous decline of minority land ownership and independence.
Paige is an inspirational leader who, although often faced with scarce resources,
racism and organized resistance, has remained steadfast in his commitment to
poor people and self-help through cooperatives. His passionate belief that
cooperatives can empower Black family farmers and rural low-income families
is evident in all that he does.
Nationally, he serves on numerous boards of directors and committees, ensuring
that the voice of the poor and underserved are always heard. He is a visionary
and tireless advocate who never shies away from a good legislative fight, battling
for the family farmer time and time again. His persistence has helped shape
U.S. farm policies, and has significantly advanced the cooperative system.