• Michelle Smith

Amazing Melanated Mommies: 23

Updated: Apr 18, 2019

While African American history is too extraordinary to be summed up in a year, let alone a month, we will be celebrating phenomenal women who changed the world as we see it now all while raising children. If they can do it, so can we. Lets do it!!!

Ella Baker was a dedicated civil rights activist, who worked with the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee among other organizations. Spurred on by her grandmother’s tales of slave master cruelty, Ella spent her life fighting for equal rights while single-handedly taking care of her niece. She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned more than five decades. In New York City and the South, she worked alongside some of the most noted civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King Jr. In 1938 Baker began her long association with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was then based in New York City. In December 1940 she started work there as a secretary. She traveled widely for the organization, especially in the South, recruiting members, raising money, and organizing local chapters. She was named director of branches in 1943, and became the highest-ranking woman in the NAACP. An outspoken woman, Baker believed in egalitarian ideals. She pushed the NAACP to decentralize its leadership structure and to aid its membership in more activist campaigns at the local level. A documentary chronicled her story in 1981 entitled ‘Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker’. ‘Fundi’ was her nickname, which came from the Swahili word for a person who passes down her craft to the next generation. Salute Ms. Ella Baker!

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