Ella Josephine Baker was an American Civil Rights Activist and Strategist. She was born in Norfolk, Virginia on December 13, 1903, and died in Harlem, New York on December 13, 1986. Her father was an activist in the 1850s, so she carried on his tradition, beginning with teaching sharecroppers and immigrants about world issues and racisms. Throughout her life, Baker worked on grassroots-lead operations and recognized the importance of student voices in social justice movements. The projects, organizations, and movements the unsung hero worked for, directed, initiated, or supported included the consumer education movement via the conduit of the Young Negroes’ Co-operative League (YNCL) during the Great Depression-era of the 1930s; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1940s; the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in the 1950s and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s; along with some fifty other entities. She was affectionately known as “Fundi,” a Swahili word meaning a person who teaches a craft to the next generation. Throughout her career, she led many social justice projects as a coordinator and worked her way up to director positions, often creating and documenting new processes while pushing the importance of grassroots organizing. According to The Ella Baker Foundation mission, they believe the best way to honor Ms. Baker’s legacy is to inspire people to imagine new possibilities, lead with solutions, and engage communities to drive positive change. Violet Summer recognizes Ella Jo Baker for her determination to just society that respects Black dignity and dedication to empowering younger generations to keep fighting for freedom.
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