By defi nition a civil rights movement measures citizenry by laws and liberties, but the black freedom struggle has always had a signifi cant economic component, and economic concerns have guided its direction. Economic power helped African Americans defend the gains they made via the courts and politics. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which used the collective strength of black buying power as a weapon, is a good example. In desegregating Montgomery’s buses, the city’s leaders made a rational fi nancial decision. Montgomery’s African American community demonstrated to them that whites could no longer aff ord the economic cost of segregated buses. But the boycott was more than that. African Americans didn’t simply want to ride buses alongside whites; they also wanted to drive buses and own bus companies. Desegregation was merely a starting point for achieving economic equality. Whereas sit-ins ostensibly tested laws segregating public accommodations, they were never defi ned entirely by desegregation. Southern blacks didn’t want merely to eat at cafés and luncheonettes. They wanted to work at them and own them, too. The Economic Civil Rights Movement gives voice to this perspective and illustrates how battles for economic freedom have always accompanied the legal and political campaigns highlighted in most accounts of the civil rights movement.