The Historic Life of Ella Jo Baker
Ella Jo Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia. From a young age she was inspired by the strong Black Women in her family, especially her slave grandmother who was whipped for refusing to marry a man who was chosen for her. She attended Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated valedictorian in 1927. After graduating she moved to New York City and began her journey as a social activist. Baker was a key player in some of the most influential Civil Rights organizations including the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) which was famously the organization Martin Luther King Jr. belonged to, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She joined the NAACP in 1940 and worked as a field secretary then served as director of branches from 1943 until 1946. She moved to Atlanta in 1957 to help Martin Luther King Jr. organize the SCLC. After the historic sit-ins in Greensboro North Carolina, Baker left the SCLC to assist the new student activists who she thought were the greatest assets to the movement. From the meeting with these students SNCC was founded. With Ella Baker’s guidance SNCC became one of the leading Civil Rights organizations. Without her help and organizing the Civil Rights Movement would not have been what it was. She continued fighting for human and civil rights until her death on her 83rd Birthday; December 13, 1986.
To learn more about her life visit The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.