The politics of hope of this article is rooted in the local leadership of low income, repressed communities. One central element of the politics of hope is redemptive organizations. These organizations are a variant of voluntary associations that are distinguished by their explicitly political purpose of social transformation and concomitant requirement of personal sacrifice and transformation. This article specifies the internal characteristics of redemptive organizations and their role in change over time. The history of four rural, southern, low-income, and predominantly black communities offer numerous instances of redemptive organizations that deal with educational, economic, and political conditions These organizations link change efforts from Reconstruction through the civil rights movement to the present. As such, they offer insight into constituent elements of social movements

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