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Ella J. Baker

Ella J. Baker



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Ella Josephine Baker, the granddaughter of slaves, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1903. After graduating from Shaw University in Rayleigh, North Carolina, Baker moved to New York City.

Baker joined the Young Negroes Cooperative League and in 1931 was appointed its national director. She was also employed by the Works Progress Administration to provide literacy and consumer education to workers.

In 1940 Baker became a field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) where she was involved in the anti-lynching campaign. Over the next few years Baker attempted to persuade the organization to become involved in community-based activism. Baker also played a leading role in the campaign to desegregate New York City public schools. According to Susan Gushee O'Malley: "her strength was to evoke in people a feeling of common need and the belief that people together can change the conditions under which they live.

In 1956 Baker and Bayard Rustin established Friendship, an organization dedicated to raising money for the fight against Jim Crow Laws in the Deep South. The following year she moved to Atlanta to work with Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). While in Atlanta she also ran the Crusade for Citizenship, a voter registration campaign. Baker disagreed with the SCLC's policy of having a strong central leadership. Baker, who favoured local, grassroots action, left the organization in 1959.

In February 1960, Greensboro, North Carolina, a small group of black students started a student sit-in at the restaurant of their local Woolworth's store which had a policy of not serving black people. In the days that followed they were joined by other black students until they occupied all the seats in the restaurant. The students were often physically assaulted, but following the teachings of Martin Luther King they did not hit back.

Baker became involved in this campaign and in October, 1960, helped to establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Baker commented: "The Student Leadership Conference made it crystal clear that current sit-ins and other demonstrations are concerned with something much bigger than a hamburger or even a giant-sized Coke. Whatever may be the difference in approach to their goal, the Negro and white students, North and South, are seeking to rid America of the scourge of racial segregation and discrimination - not only at lunch counters, but in every aspect of life."

SNCC adopted the Gandhian theory of nonviolent direct action. This included participation in the Freedom Rides during 1961. Leading figures in the organization included Robert Moses, Marion Barry, James Lawson, Charles McDew, James Forman and John Lewis. According to Susan Gushee O'Malley: "In the following years, Baker was the older person behind SNCC students who listened, counseled, advised, and nurtured the civil rights workers who organized the freedom rides, worked in voter registration, and broke segregation in the South."

In 1964 Baker returned to New York City and remained active in the civil rights movement. She was also a supporter of freedom struggles in Africa, a national board member of the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee and vice-chairperson of the Mass Party Organizing Committee.

Ella Josephine Baker died on 13th December 1986.

The Student Leadership Conference made it crystal clear that current sit-ins and other demonstrations are concerned with something much bigger than a hamburger or even a giant-sized Coke.

Whatever may be the difference in approach to their goal, the Negro and white students, North and South, are seeking to rid America of the scourge of racial segregation and discrimination - not only at lunch counters, but in every aspect of life.

In reports, casual conversations, discussion groups, and speeches, the sense and the spirit of the following statement that appeared in the initial newsletter of the students at Barber-Scotia College, Concord, N.C., were re-echoed time and again: "We want the world to know that we no longer accept the inferior position of second-class citizenship. We are willing to go to jail, be ridiculed, spat upon and even suffer physical violence to obtain First Class Citizenship."

By and large, this feeling that they have a destined date with freedom, was not limited to a drive for personal freedom, or even freedom for the Negro in the South. Repeatedly it was emphasized that the movement was concerned with the moral implications of racial discrimination for the "whole world" and the "Human Race."

This universality of approach was linked with a perceptive recognition that "it is important to keep the movement democratic and to avoid struggles for personal leadership."

It was further evident that desire for supportive cooperation from adult leaders and the adult community was also tempered by apprehension that adults might try to "capture" the student movement. The students showed willingness to be met on the basis of equality, but were intolerant of anything that smacked of manipulation or domination.

This inclination toward group-centered leadership, rather than toward a leader-centered group pattern of organization, was refreshing indeed to those of the older group who bear the scars of the battle, the frustrations and the disillusionment that come when the prophetic leader turns out to have heavy feet of clay.

However hopeful might be the signs in the direction of group-centeredness, the fact that many schools and communities, especially in the South, have not provided adequate experience for young Negroes to assume initiative and think and act independently accentuated the need for guarding the student movement against well-meaning, but nevertheless unhealthy, over-protectiveness.

Here is an opportunity for adult and youth to work together and provide genuine leadership - the development of the individual to his highest potential for the benefit of the group.


On MLK Day, Honor the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, Too

W hen Americans across the country pay tribute to a civil rights leader that President Ronald Reagan described as America&rsquos &ldquopreeminent nonviolent commander,&rdquo most people will, appropriately, be thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in whose honor the federal holiday was established in 1983.

But there is a lesser-known civil rights figure without whom Dr. King&rsquos work&mdashand nothing less than the entire civil rights movement of the 1960s&mdashmay not have succeeded, and whose absence from the iconography of American history is a disservice to all citizens: Ella J. Baker.

A granddaughter of slaves who graduated valedictorian from Raleigh&rsquos Shaw University in 1927, Baker spent nearly half a century raising the political consciousness of Americans, and played a major role in three of the 20th century&rsquos most influential civil rights groups: the National Association or the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced &ldquosnick&rdquo).

While those groups typically had male figureheads, it was Baker who, first as an NAACP field secretary and later as its director of branches, spent the 1940s traveling from small town to small town, convincing ordinary black citizens&mdashwho had been enslaved and terrorized for more than 200 years&mdashto join together and peaceably insist that they were deserving of basic human rights.

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Baker grew up in rural North Carolina, where she developed a deep sense of self-respect. Her parents shared their food with hungry neighbors her grandmother told how she endured a savage whipping rather than agree to marry a man chosen for her by a master.

Utilizing her iron will and a gift for listening, Baker helped local leaders carefully craft and implement targeted campaigns against lynching, for job training and for black teachers to get equal pay. She also was adept at recognizing talent and helped coax capable rank and file members into taking leadership roles among the participants at one of her workshops was an NAACP member from Montgomery, Alabama, named Rosa Parks.

After resigning from the national organization in 1946 (she had returned to Harlem to raise a niece), Baker stayed involved with its New York chapter, and in 1952 was elected its president, the first-ever woman in that role. There, she built coalitions with other groups, worked on a campaign to end school segregation, and even publicly confronted the mayor.

But after the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (touched off by Rosa Park&rsquos refusal to yield her seat to a white man on December 1, 1955) many black leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., decided they wanted to establish a formal organization to build similar boycotts throughout the south.

Dr. King, a gifted speaker, was chosen to be the organization&rsquos figurehead. According to several historians, including biographer Barbara Ransby, writing in her book Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision, it was Baker who principally framed the issues and set the group&rsquos agenda. In 1958, she moved to Atlanta to spearhead what had become the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the group primarily associated with Dr. King.

For two and a half years, in an era before the Internet, rolodexes or social media, Baker utilized her skills, experience and contacts to plan events, identify and establish protests and campaigns, and select and trained various individuals to lead them.

Her relationship with Dr. King, however, was tense: Despite her level of experience and proven track record, he had difficulty allowing a woman&rsquos decisions to trump his own, and her idea was that the organization should devote its resources more to promoting and enabling its overall mission rather than celebrating a charismatic leader. Wyatt Tee Walker, an early SCLC board member, told the filmmaker Joanne Grant that the ministers&rsquo refusal to follow Baker’s advice was in practice with the era&rsquos norms. &ldquoThis was before the days of women&rsquos liberation,&rdquo he says in the 1981 film Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker. Going to great lengths to avoid the word &ldquochauvinists,&rdquo Mr. Walker instead explains how unless someone was &ldquomale&rdquo and a member of the &ldquoinner circle of the church,&rdquo that it could be difficult to overcome &ldquothe preacher ego.&rdquo

Frustrated, Baker was on the brink of resigning in 1960, when a group of college students refused to leave a Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Having always believed that meaningful change happens on the streets (and not just from court rulings), she wrote a letter on SCLC letterhead calling student leaders all over the South to join and begin working together. The days-long conference, held over Easter weekend at Shaw University, yielded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a youth-lead group that helped organize the 1961 Freedom Rides, directed many of the black voter registration drives in the South and drew national attention during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964 when three SNCC workers were killed by white supremacists.

So if Baker was so important, why isn&rsquot her name as well-known to Americans as Dr. King&rsquos or Rosa Parks, for that matter?

For starters, Baker was never interested in the spotlight and devoted no effort whatsoever to seeking recognition. Instead, like all the world&rsquos greatest teachers and editors, she enjoyed the pleasure of watching others reach their own potential. &ldquoI found a greater sense of importance by being a part of those who were growing,&rdquo Baker said in Grant&rsquos film.

Secondly, despite Baker&rsquos gifts for leadership and oratory, the SCLC pastors, intent on preserving their patriarchal hierarchy, refused to allow her to share in their prestige. Despite protests from key advisors, Dr. King initially granted her only the title of provisional executive director, which obscured her true importance.

Finally, there is the nature of storytelling itself, and the inherent difficulty of conveying in a compelling way what could be described as the nuts and bolts of emotional labor. Baker spent years of her life performing the essential&mdashbut far from glamorous&mdashact of listening, a crucial first step in helping beleaguered blacks develop enough self-worth to demand being treated with dignity in an environment where they had every reason to fear brutality and economic reprisal from their white neighbors. She also understood group dynamics and how to empower people to join forces, a delicate task that involves responding to a wide array of human feelings.

A narrative about this kind of work is inherently less dramatic and far more complicated than, say, the tale of a discreet act of bravery on a bus.

But great leaders have recognized for centuries that high emotional intelligence, or the ability to recognize and respond to other people’s feelings, is central to successfully influencing them.

So I will be honoring Dr. King&mdashand recalling the wearying 15-year struggle it took to enact the federal holiday after Rep. John Conyers of Michigan first introduced legislation four days after Dr. King’s murder in 1968.

But why not also pay tribute to Ella Baker, the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement? Without her, Americans of all colors may never have received Dr. King&rsquos messages.


Feminist Fact Friday: Ella Baker

Ella Baker, unsung heroine of the American Civil Rights movement.
Photo used under Creative Commons Media license.

“Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.” – Ella Baker

Ella J. Baker is one of the unsung heroines of the American Civil Rights Movement. Lesser than known than male counterparts like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baker worked for and/or helped found many of the many civil rights organizations we know of today during the her five-decades long career.

Baker grew up up in Virginia and North Carolina, listening to stories of slave revolts from her grandparents. After graduating from Shaw University as class valedictorian, she became active in social activism, first working for the Young Negroes Cooperative League before obtaining a position at the NAACP as a field secretary. In this role, she organized boycotts, raised money, registered voters, and traveled through the South, building a network of black churches and smaller activist organizations.

In 1957, she was part of the team of activists who helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and build on the momentum created by the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Though Baker was integral to the operations of the SCLC, she was never given the title of permanent director, largely because the organization preferred to have male ministers in that role. Baker did serve as interim director from 1958 to 1960.

In 1960, Baker witnessed the courage of four North Carolina A&T students sitting in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC and felt compelled to focus her activism on working with young people. She left the SCLC and, with the students, helped found Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Under her guidance, SNCC focused on promoting civil rights through nonviolent direct action and voter registration. Her guidance to the young people of SNCC had such a profound impact that she was nicknamed “Fundi” – a Swahili word that, loosely translated, means “mentor to new generations.”

In later years, Baker lent her voice and experience to broader progressive causes including the Puerto Rican independence movement, the anti-apartheid movement for South Africa, and women’s poverty in developing countries. She died in 1986.


While not as well known as King, John Lewis or other famed leaders of the civil rights movement, Baker was a powerful behind-the-scenes force that ensured the success of some of the movement&aposs most important organizations and events.

Her life and accomplishments were chronicled in the 1981 documentary Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker. "Fundi" was her nickname, from a Swahili word that means a person who passes down a craft to the next generation.  

Her name lives on through the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which aims to combat the problems of mass incarceration and strengthen communities for minorities and low-income people. Additionally, her name graces a K-8 public school on Manhattan&aposs Upper East Side.


Baker, Ella Josephine

Rejecting Martin Luther King ’ s charismatic leadership, Ella Baker advised student activists organizing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to promote “group-centered leaders” rather than the “leader-centered” style she associated with King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (Baker, 19 June 1968). It was this grassroots leadership that Baker credited for the success and longevity of the movement: “You see, I think that, to be very honest, the movement made Martin rather than Martin making the movement. This is not a discredit to him. This is, to me, as it should be” (Baker, 19 June 1968).

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, on 13 December 1903, Baker was raised on the same land her grandparents had worked as slaves. Baker’s childhood was marked early on by the activist spirit of her mother, a member of the local missionary association, who called on women to act as agents of social change in their communities.

After graduating from Shaw University in 1927, Baker moved to New York, where she served as national director of the Young Negroes Cooperative League. In 1938 Baker joined the staff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as an assistant field secretary and later as director of branches. Unable to redirect the organization ’ s focus toward grassroots organizing, Baker resigned from her position in 1946. She joined the NAACP again in 1952 as president of the New York City branch. In 1956 Baker, along with Stanley Levison and Bayard Rustin, co-founded In Friendship, an organization founded to provide aid to local movements in the South.

In January 1958 Baker moved to Atlanta to organize SCLC ’ s Crusade for Citizenship, a campaign to help enforce voting rights for black citizens. She ran SCLC ’ s Atlanta headquarters, and after Executive Director John Tilley resigned in April 1959 she filled in until a permanent director was hired the following year.

In addition to her criticism of SCLC’s organizing philosophy, Baker also experienced conflicts with her male colleagues. Andrew Young described Baker as a “determined woman” and went on to say: “The Baptist church had no tradition of women in independent leadership roles, and the result was dissatisfaction all around” (Young, 137).

Following the February 1960 sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, Baker and King called a conference of student activists at Shaw University. The result of this April meeting was a student-led organization known as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Already serving in an advisory capacity to the growing student movement, Baker left SCLC in August 1960.

In addition to continuing her involvement as an advisor to SNCC, Baker served as a consultant to the Southern Conference Education Fund throughout the mid-1960s and helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She returned to New York in the late 1960s and remained active in the civil rights struggle until her death in 1986.


Ella Baker (1903-1986)

Through her decades of work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and later with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Ella Baker emerged as one of the most important women in the civil rights movement. Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia. After grammar school, her mother enrolled her in Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated as the valedictorian of both her high school and college graduating classes. The college valedictorian honor was all the more remarkable because she worked her way through school as a waitress and chemistry lab assistant. Baker graduated from Shaw University with a B.A. in June 1927.

After graduation Baker moved to New York City, where she became a waitress, and community organizer involved in radical politics. Later that year (1927) she became a journalist for the American West Indian News. By 1930, she was named office manager of the Negro National News.

In 1930, Ella Baker and George Schuyler cofounded the Young Negroes Cooperative League (YNCL). She was the organization’s first secretary-treasurer, and chairman of the New York Council. In 1931, Baker became the YNCL’s national director. Schuyler, the organization’s president, then recommended her to the NAACP.

In 1941, Ella Baker became an assistant field secretary of the NAACP. She also took the post of advisor for the New York Youth Council of the NAACP. By the late 1940s Baker, a field secretary, was the NAACP’s most effective organizer as she traveled the South chartering new branches. In 1956, she organized In Friendship, a group that raised money for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Years of work among young people–both inside and outside the NAACP–led to her assignment to coordinate a conference to provide direction for the rapidly emerging sit-in movement that began on February 1, 1960, in Greensboro, North Carolina. In April of 1960, Baker organized a conference at her alma mater, Shaw University, which led to the establishment of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Although she never joined SNCC, Baker arranged and coordinated sit-ins for the new civil rights organization. Baker continued to organize students involved in political activism through the 1970s. In recognition of her work she was awarded a doctorate of letters from the City College of New York in May 1985. Ella Baker died on her birthday, December 13, 1986 at the age of 83.


Ella Baker

One of the leading figures of the Civil Rights Movement which took place in the 1950s and 1960s, Ella Baker, was born in Virginia in 1903. Growing up in North Carolina, Baker had a close relationship with her grandmother, a former slave, and heard narrations of many of the experiences which the latter lived through.

Baker was an intelligent child and attended Shaw University in Raleigh, becoming the valedictorian for the batch of 1927. Upon graduating, she relocated to New York City where she juggled between various jobs to fulfill her basic needs. Before she became involved in Civil Rights Movement, Baker contributed to the start-up of a club, Young Negroes’ Cooperative League, which permitted its members to accumulate their funds in order to benefit from better deals on goods and services. In the preceding years, she also served on the editorial boards of American West Indian News and Negro National News.

Beginning work for the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1938, Baker frequently travelled to various parts of the country in order to raise funds and recruit new people to the NAACP. Initially starting off as a field secretary, Baker was promoted to the organization’s national director of branches for her extensive work in issues related to job training and equal pay for black workers. Realizing the demanding nature of the job, Baker resigned in 1946 to look after her niece but continued work with the New York branch for better academic prospects of black children.

In 1953, Ella Baker ran for New York City Council on the Liberal Party ticket. Following this failure, the independent individual worked as Director of the Harlem Division of the New York City Committee of the American Cancer Society.

Four years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked Baker to take up the position of Executive Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights group headed by African Americans, to which she agreed. It was Baker who initiated the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, the same year in which she left the SCLC. SNCC, however, continued to gain support from Baker who later helped the committee form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964 in opposition to the state’s Democratic Party.

Under Baker’s influence, the SNCC also established itself as one of the foremost advocates for human rights in the country, earning her the title of Fundi, a Swahili word which translates to a person who teaches a craft to the following generation.

Starting in 1962, Ella Baker joined the Southern Conference Education Fund for five years, encouraging black and white people to work together. During the same time frame, she organized a civil liberties conference in Washington, D.C, and collaborated with Carl Braden on a mock civil rights commission hearing in North Carolina.

In her later years, the activist served on the board of the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee, along with being the Founder and President of the Fund for Education and Legal Defense, which raised money so to assist civil right activists with college scholarships. Added to her list of credentials are the services she provided to Social and Racial Justice of the Episcopal Church, Third World Women’s Coordinating Committee and the Coalition of Concerned Black Americans.

Passing away on the day of her 83 rd birthday in 1986, Ella Baker raised political awareness amongst people by raising issues which were not discussed otherwise. While she lived, she had the ability to influence people with her actions and her contributions to the black society continue to inspire people to date.


Remembering those hidden figures in US Black history

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — History books typically outline some of the same stories when speaking about Black history.

Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are all well known but there are others.

Harriet Jacobs, Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer are three unsung heroes that helped inspire generations.

Jacobs was born a slave in 1813.

While there have been narratives written before by slaves, Jacobs offered the perspective of a woman.

In her book, incidents in the "Life of a Slave Girl" she writes about trauma and the fight for freedom for her and her family.

The book was one of the first public discussions about the sexual abuse endured by slave women.

Jacobs escapes slavery by hiding in a crawl-like space, no bigger than 9 feet, 7 feet wide.

By 1842, she sailed north where she reunites with her children.

It is there she documents her role in the abolition movement and exposes racism in the North.

Ella J. Baker was a lesser-known Civil Rights figure whose work spearheaded the movement of the 1960s.

Many argue Baker was the driving force behind leaders like Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Baker's work began with the NAACP in 1940 where she worked as a field secretary.

In 1957, Baker moved to Atlanta to help King with a new organization where she helped run a voter registration campaign.

Eventually, her work with King ended and Baker then shifted her focus to leading student activists.

Fannie Lou Hamer was a Civil Rights crusader of her time.

Hamer took the pain of the Jim Crow era and focused her efforts on voting rights for African-Americans in the South.

In 1963, Hamer and a group of people were refused service at a cafe.

They were arrested and thrown in jail and beaten by police for several days.

Hamer suffered lasting scars and physical issues.

Despite every obstacle, nothing threw her off her mission.

Hamer spent the rest of her life fighting for Black political rights and helping to register voters.

While the 21st century may have forgotten these unsung heroes, it is the new generation that must shed light on their contributions.


Ella Baker

A major force in shaping the development of the Civil Rights Movement in America, Ella Baker was the premiere behind-the-scenes organizer, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) headed by Martin Luther King, Jr., and an inspiring force behind the creation of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Baker began her long affiliation with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People organizer in 1938. She was hired in 1940 and traveled widely raising money and organizing local branches. In the late 1950s she helped create SCLC to fight racism in her role as executive director (as opposed to King’s primary spokesperson role).

As students – black and white – became involved in the movement, Baker supported the idea of a student-run organization, and encouraged young people to found SNCC. SNCC organized many successful voter registration drives and other activities. Baker was also an adviser to the creation of the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party (MDFP), created to help overturn the all-white Democratic Party delegation to the party conventions.


Ella J. Baker

Ella Baker CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons Ella Baker worked with many famous people, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., for the civil rights of all people. She traveled to many countries to make speeches about human rights. Ella Baker was committed to making sure that all people were treated equally.

Baker was the granddaughter of a slave who got beaten by her master for not marrying the man her master wanted her to marry. Ella was born on December 13, 1903. The place she was born in was Norfolk, Virginia. She died December 13, 1986, on her birthday in New York City. She was 83. She was a strong, independent African American woman. Part of her career was with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where she became the field secretary and director of branches.

She graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She became part of the Harlem Renaissance in the mid to late 1920s. She continued more of her work with the NAACP in the 1930s. In the late 1930s she quit the NAACP, and became a leader of the cooperative movement and helped in demonstrations against colonialism.

In 1938, she rejoined the NAACP&rsquos staff. While she was working for them, she spent most of her time in the South building houses. In the 1950s, she spent some of her time in Atlanta and New York. When she was up there, she fought police violence and for school segregation to end.

Baker risked her life for others because she believed in justice and equality. Risking your life for others is the ultimate sacrifice. She worked with some of the most famous leaders of the 20th century. She taught young children about civil rights and human rights. She taught Rosa Parks to stand up for her rights and the rights of all people.

In a time when blacks were treated unfairly, Baker provided leadership in the fight for equal rights. In 1957 she moved to Atlanta, where she helped organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also known as SCLC. The SCLC is a group that is a voter registration campaign. She served two terms as the SCLC&rsquos executive director of human rights. On February 1, 1960, a group of black college students from North Carolina A&T University refused to leave a lunch counter where they had been denied service. Ella Baker left the SCLC and organized a meeting for the students from North Carolina A&T University who refused to leave. The meeting was held on April 1960, at Shaw University. With the help of Ella Baker and the students, they organized a group called the Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, also known as SNCC. This group helped to register black voters. Then in 1964, she helped organize a civil rights group called the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Mural on the wall of row houses in Philadelphia. Left to right Malcolm Shabazz (Malcolm X), Ella Baker, Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass. Tony Fischer, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ella Baker worked with now-famous individuals from the US civil rights movement , such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. She traveled all around the world to stand up for what she believed in. She was strong-hearted and very independent. She made many people, African Americans and non-African Americans, see all people as equal. She helped organize many groups who supported equal rights for blacks. She was not afraid to be killed for what was right. People like her can make the world a wonderful place. Imagine that!


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