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Ella Baker was an African-American civil rights activist who was known for her influential efforts as a community organizer alongside fellow civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and W. E. B. Du Bois, among others.
See the fact file below for more information on the Ella Baker or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Ella Baker worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life and Education
- Ella Josephine Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia.
- Her parents, Georgiana and Blake Baker, raised her in Littleton, North Carolina, where they moved when Ella was seven years old.
- At an early age, Ella already knew stories about slavery and slave revolts from her maternal grandmother who was born into slavery.
- These stories developed a sense of social justice in Ella Baker.
- She attended the high school academy of Shaw University (a historically black university) in Raleigh, North Carolina.
- She attended college at Shaw University where she graduated valedictorian in 1927.
- She moved to New York City after graduation during the time of the Great Migration.
- The Great Migration was a time when blacks in the South were escaping slavery and heading north.
- During the Great Depression, Baker saw for herself how African-Americans suffered through economic struggles and racial discrimination.
Social Work and Civil Rights Activism
- Baker worked as an editorial staff member of the American West Indian News from 1929 to 1930.
- Afterwards, she worked as an editorial assistant at the Negro National News.
- In 1930, the Young Negroes’ Cooperative League (YNCL) was founded by George Schuyler.
- The aim of the YNCL was to gather community resources in order to provide affordable services and goods to its members.
- In 1931, Baker joined the YNCL and became the group’s national director.
- Her work in the YNCL prepared her for a lifetime career in civil rights activism.
- In 1938, Baker began working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
- She became the organization’s field secretary in 1940.
- In 1943, she was made national director of NAACP’s branches.
- As NAACP director, she aimed to decentralize the existing leadership structure and believed in establishing activist campaigns on the grassroots level.
- She worked primarily in raising funds, mobilizing communities, and educating the public.
- In 1946, Baker resigned from being director of NAACP.
- In 1955, one month after the Montgomery bus boycott, Baker co-founded New York-based organization In Friendship to raise monetary aid for civil rights efforts in the south.
- Baker rejoined the NAACP’s New York chapter in 1952, where she worked for the integration of local schools.
- She became the first female leader of that chapter.
- After attending a conference and meeting with black ministers in the south in 1957, she became part of the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
- SCLC aimed to organize civil rights efforts throughout the south.
- Baker served as the director of SCLC and Martin Luther King, Jr., as the SCLC’s first president.
- She was highly respected for her work and abilities in organizing communities and civil rights projects.
- She ran the organization’s first project, the Crusade for Citizenship, a voter registration campaign.
- In 1960, she left the SCLC and began helping local initiatives in Greensboro, North Carolina.
- She helped in the formation and organization of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) alongside university student leaders of activist groups.
- With Baker as its adviser, SNCC rose to be one of the most active organizations in advocating for human rights.
- She was nicknamed “Fundi” which loosely translates as ‘someone who passes on knowledge to the next generation’ in Swahili.
- Her leadership style was established on grassroots organization and participatory democracy.
- She openly criticized bureaucratic styles of organization.
- In the SNCC, she served as a mentor to civil rights activists Diane Nash, Rosa Parks, and Kwame Ture.
- Beginning 1962 until 1967, Baker joined the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) which used education as a tool to abolish racial segregation and discrimination. It also gathered blacks and whites to work toward a desegregated and socially just future.
- Baker also spoke out against apartheid in South Africa.
- Baker partnered with women’s groups like the Third World Women’s Alliance and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Personal Life and Legacy
- Baker married T.J. Roberts in the late 1930s.
- In 1984, Baker was a recipient of the Candace Award given by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
- Baker died on her 83rd birthday in 1986.
- Joanne Grant directed and produced Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker, a 1981 documentary on Ella Baker’s life and contributions.
- In 1994, Baker was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
- In 1996, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which is a non-profit action center, was founded in Oakland, California.
- In 2009, Ella Baker was memorialized on a US postage stamp.
Ella Baker Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Ella Baker across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Ella Baker worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Ella Baker who was an African-American civil rights activist who was known for her influential efforts as a community organizer alongside fellow civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and W. E. B. Du Bois, among others.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Ella Baker Facts
- Who’s Ella Baker?
- Correct Match
- Lifelong Work
- What’s Next?
- Quotes From Ella
- True Or False
- Fellow Activists
- Two Terms
- Influential Leader
- Inspired By Baker
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Link will appear as Ella Baker Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 5, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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