This article surveys African Americans encounter with material goods from the end of the Civil War through the end of World War II. Additionally it uses Ebony magazine as a case study to illuminate blacks’ understanding and use of material possessions in the developing fight for equality in the burgeoning civil rights movement. Central to the argument is that blacks have long understood the difference between materialism and a materially-intensive life and have used goods as a way to demonstrate their desire to be equal in every way with their fellow citizens. Hence, consumption becomes a means of political and social activism on par with other better-known efforts such as the battle for voting rights or an end to racial discrimination.