BHM | honoring ella baker (december 13, 1903-december 13, 1986)
ms. baker was born in norfolk, virginia, but she was raised in north carolina. while growing up she heard many stories about slavery from her grandmother and this instilled an attitude of resistance in ms. baker. “as a slave, her grandmother had been whipped for refusing to marry a man chosen for her by the slave owner. her grandmother’s pride and resilience in the face of racism and injustice continued to inspire ms. baker throughout her life.”
she later attended shaw university in raleigh, north carolina where she continuously challenged school policies she believed to be unfair. after graduating as the valedictorian in 1927, she moved to nyc and begin joining several civic organizations. “in 1930, she joined the young negroes cooperative league, whose purpose was to develop black economic power through collective planning. she also involved herself with several women’s organizations.”
in 1940, she joined the naacp and the fight against jim crow. ms. baker worked as a field secretary for the organization and then director of branches from 1943-1946. later inspired by the 1955 historic montgomery bus boycotts, she would go on to become the co-founder of an organization called in friendship, which raised money to fight against jim crow. “in 1957, ms. baker moved to Atlanta to help organize martin luther king’s new organization, the southern christian leadership conference (SCLC). she also ran a voter registration campaign called the crusade for citizenship.”
perhaps ms. baker is best known for helping to start the student nonviolent coordinating committee better known as SNCC. “she left the SCLC after the greensboro sit-ins. she wanted to assist the new student activists because she viewed young, emerging activists as a resource and an asset to the movement. ms. baker organized a meeting at shaw university for the student leaders of the sit-ins in april 1960.” from that meeting, SNCC was born. SNCC went on to participate in 1961’s freedom rides, 1964’s freedom summer, and the organization became one the foremost human rights organizations in the country.
ms. baker fought for the rights of oppressed people her entire life. she worked on the southern conference education fund, she toured the country in support of the “Free Angela” movement, she lent her voice to the Puerto Rican independence movement, and she spoke out against South Africa’s apartheid. when we speak about queens, we’re talking about people like ms. ella baker.
posted by trae.