Born in 1903, Ella Baker was the granddaughter of a rebellious slave. She began her involvement with the NAACP in 1940. In 1955 she co-founded the organization In Friendship to help raise money to fight Jim Crow laws in the deep South. Two years later, she moved to Atlanta to help with the organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. After a group of black college students held the first sit in at a café in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ella Baker decided that she wanted to help the new student leaders. She held a meeting at Shaw University for student leaders of the sit-ins. It is from this meeting that SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was born. SNCC was an important part of the Civil Rights movement over the next decade. Ella Baker continued to support and advise SNCC, although she left its leadership in the hands of the students. SNCC became one of the foremost advocates for human rights in the country.
During the remainder of her life, Ella Baker stayed an active activist, and was involved with a variety of movements. During the 1970’s she supported the “Free Angela” campaign that demanded the release of Angela Davis. She also supported the Puerto Rican independence movement and spoke against apartheid in South Africa. Ella Baker worked with a variety of
women’s groups, like the Third World Women’s Alliance and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
“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
- Maria Etienne ’13