Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement Essay

2896 WordsApr 15, 200812 Pages
BOOK REVIEW ELLA BAKER AND THE BLACK FREEDOM MOVEMENT BARBARA RANSBY Ella Josephine Baker was a giant among civil rights activists. Spanning nearly half the twentieth century, her long and varied career enabled her to touch many lives and leave a unique imprint on the cultural, social, political and economical transitions of both African Americans and society as a whole, specifically during the tumultuous decade of the 1960s. In contrast to other leading activists of her day, Baker fervently believed that true leaders rose up from the poor masses to a position of power, and as such she often made special efforts to reach out to the poorest of working class people, as a “fundi”, a teacher and mentor, to bring them into the…show more content…
After resigning this position, Baker returned to her home in New York City, where she was elected president of the local New York City NAACP branch. This new appointment provided her with the ability to broaden and institute new programs on a local level, in an area where she was already familiar with many of the groups and workers involved in the movement. A number of these programs centered on school reform. She devoted a large portion of her time to organizations such as Parents in Action and founded In Friendship, a coalition of organizations designed, “as an umbrella fund-raiser for the movement as a whole” (Ransby, 165). Baker eventually resigned from the presidency of the New York NAACP, and in moved south in 1957 – inspired by the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Montgomery Improvement Association. She joined the staff of the newly formed SCLC along side friend Bayard Rustin, another founding member and leader of In Friendship, and the young minister Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the organization’s leader. However from the outset the inherent structure and internal politics of SCLC made life somewhat difficult for Baker. As the only female member of a leadership group comprised almost entirely of male clergy, Baker was somewhat outnumbered. “As a woman, an older woman, in a
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