Born in 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia, Ella Baker became involved in political activism in the 1930s. She organized the Young Negroes Cooperative League in New York City and later became a national director for the NAACP. In 1957, Baker joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, whose first president was Martin Luther King.
Ella Baker was one of the leading figures in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She grew up in rural North Carolina. Baker was close to her grandmother, a former slave. Her grandmother told Baker many stories about her life, including a whipping she had received at the hands of her owner.
A bright student, Baker eventually went to Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was the class valedictorian when she graduated in 1927. After she completed her degree, Baker moved north to New York City. There she worked a number of jobs while trying to make ends meet. Baker helped start the Young Negroes’ Cooperative League, which allowed its members to pool their funds to get better deals on goods and services.
Around 1940, Baker became a field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She traveled extensively, raising funds and recruiting new members to the organization.
Baker continued to fight for social justice and equality for the rest of her life. With her many years of experience as a protester and organizer, she gave her wise counsel to numerous organizations and causes, including the Third World Women’s Coordinating Committee and the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee. Her life and accomplishments were chronicled in the 1981 documentary Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker. “Fundi” was her nickname, which comes from a Swahili word that means a person who passes down a craft to the next generation.
Baker died on her 83rd birthday, on December 13, 1986, in New York City.
For more of her story click this link http://www.biography.com/people/ella-baker-9195848#civil-rights-activist
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