Ella Baker was a huge key factor in the Civil Rights Movement. She mainly worked with the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Ella Josephine Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia. Later on she moved to North Carolina where she grew up. Her grandmother was a huge influence on her and helped guide her on the path in developing a sense for social justice for all. Her grandmother lived most of her life under slavery. One of the stories she told Ella that stuck with her throughout her life was the one where her grandmother was whipped for denying the marriage arranged by her owner. As you can see, Ella was just like her grandmother and would evolve into a strong independent woman for many to look up to.
Ella went on to further her education at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. A fun fact about Shaw University is that it became very popular school for its course that were offered there. They included:
- Black American literature
- Afro-American in America
- Black Americans in American politics
- Black ideology.
It doesn’t say what she majored in while there, but while there she would challenge school policies that she thought was unfair to the student body. She graduated from Shaw University in 1927 as class valedictorian.
As journey continues, Ella moved to New York City and joined a social activist organization called the Young Negroes Cooperative League in 1930. The purpose of this group was to inspire black economic power through planning. She once said,
“People cannot be free until there is enough work in this land to give everybody a job.”
In 1957, Ella moved to Atlanta to help organize Martin Luther King’s organization called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
In this organization, she set up the event that led to the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960. As you read in my previous blog, this is where she and Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson worked together. Both these strong independent women helped start this life changing movement.
A group of black college students from North Carolina A&T University sat at Woolworth’s lunch counter on February 1, 1960 in Geensboro, North Carolina after being denied service. This was the inspiration for many more sit-ins to occur, including the sit-in at Rich’s Department Store.
Ella Baker has inspired many over the decades. She help change how people are treated back then and now today. We can all still learn from her today. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions below.