Ella Baker, American community organizer and political activist

The major job was getting people to understand that they had something within their power that they could use, and it could only be used if they understood what was happening and how group action could counter violence.

Ella Baker, American community organizer and political activist

Ella Baker was an American community organizer and political activist who brought her skills and principles to bear in the major civil rights organizations of the mid-20th century. Inspired by the historic bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, Baker cofounded the organization In Friendship to raise money for the civil rights movement in the South. In 1957 she met with a group of Southern black ministers and helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to coordinate reform efforts throughout the South. Martin Luther King, Jr., served as the SCLC’s first president and Baker as its director. She left the SCLC in 1960 to help student leaders of college activist groups organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Baker continued to be a respected and influential leader in the fight for human and civil rights until her death on her 83rd birthday.

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