Synopses & Reviews
Ella Baker came out of slavery, and this fact lived with her. That is a difficult thing for people in the late twentieth century to grasp. She came out of a family that rebelled against the status quo and she carried on the family tradition. But she was not against; she was for. She was for the participation of people in whatever affected their lives. She was for the best in all of us. from the Introduction Shining a guiding light on the path to freedom, Ella J. Baker stood at the forefront of the great struggle for civil rights. The battles she fought, the organizations she helped build, the prominent leaders she worked with, shoulder to shoulderall these make her story a history of the movement itself. In Ella Baker, noted journalist and movement veteran Joanne Grant gives us the first full portrait of the incomparable Ella Baker. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1903, Baker grew up in a largely self-sufficient African American community where she was nurtured by a loving extended family and a mother who instilled in her a strong sense of responsibility. After attending Shaw University in North Carolina, Ella Baker moved north to the social and artistic ferment of the Harlem Renaissance. For an eager and determined young woman, Harlem in 1927 offered the excitement of new ideas, new relationships, and new freedoms. Before long she was actively organizing consumer cooperatives and working for the then leading civil rights organization, the NAACP. Ella Josephine Baker had found her calling, and the rest is riveting history. Although she shunned the spotlight, believing the glare of the media more a hindrance than a help to her work, Miss Baker, as she was known to all, nonetheless found herself center stage in the struggle for civil rights. Throughout the nineteen forties, fifties, and into the sixties, she fought to desegregate the schools, to increase voter registration, and to encourage participation of African Americans in electoral politics. Above all, she strove to get people everywhere more involved in the decisions that affected their own lives. In addition to her position as a national officer of the NAACP, Baker helped found Martin Luther King Jr.s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In a political world dominated by men, there were those who did not always know what to make of this driven, feisty, intensely focused woman. Her unceasing efforts brought her into conflict with Martin Luther King Jr. himself. Joanne Grant first met Ella Baker in 1960, and they remained friends and coworkers until Miss Bakers death in 1986. In Ella Baker, Ms. Grant draws on hundreds of sources, including extensive interviews with Ella Baker and her friends, relatives, and colleagues. The result is a vivid, "you-are-there" experience that celebrates the enduring legacy of the woman whose determination and courageous achievements continue to inspire succeeding generations.
"Ella Baker, one woman worth reading about. The cover photo alone is worth the price of the book. Ella Baker clutches her ballpoint pen, eyeglass case and big purse. She's wearing a blue wool coat, earbobs and Sunday school hat. It's a portrait of a lifelong activist."--The Atlanta Journal Constitution
"Splendid biography . . . A valuable contribution to the growing body of literature on the critical roles of women in civil rights."--The Washington Post Book World
"A warm, tender, and incisive portrait of an unheralded mover in this century's struggle for the rights of African Americans."--Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children's Defense Fund
"The definitive biography of Ella Baker, a force behind the civil rights movement and almost every social justice movement of this century."--Gloria Steinem
"Will be received with plaudits for its empathy, insightfulness, and gendered narration of an astonishingly neglected life that was pivotal in the pursuit of American justice and humanity."--David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer prize-winning author of W.E.B. DuBois
Now available in trade paperback, this is the first full biography of Ella J. Baker, the inspiring story of a civil rights activist who devoted her life to the movement from the 1930s to her death in 1968.
Praise for ELLA BAKER
"Splendid biography . . . a valuable contribution to the growing body of literature on the critical roles of women in civil rights."—Joyce A. Ladner, The Washington Post Book World
"The definitive biography of Ella Baker, a force behind the civil rights movement and almost every social justice movement of this century."—Gloria Steinem
"This book will be received with plaudits for its empathy, insightfulness, and gendered narration of an astonishingly neglected life that was pivotal in the pursuit of American justice and humanity."—David Levering Lewis Pulitzer Prize-winning author of W. E. B. Du Bois
"Pathbreaking. By illuminating the little-known story of how profoundly Ella Baker influenced the most radical activists of the era, Grant's graceful portrayal reveals Miss Baker's transformative impact on recent history."—Kathleen Cleaver
About the Author
JOANNE GRANT began her career in civil rights as an assistant to NAACP founder W. E. B. Du Bois. While working as a reporter for the National Guardian in the 1960s, she joined the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and became a close associate of Ella Baker. She produced and directed Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker, an award-winning documentary film nationally telecast on PBS. Ms. Grant is the author of Black Protest, a classic documentary history, and Confrontation on Campus. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Roots of Rebellion.
Reveling in New Ideas.
Putting People in Motion: The NAACP Years.
The Travel Was Bum.
The Northern Challenge.
Confronting "De Lawd."
On the Way to Freedom Land.
In Her Image.
Black Power's Gon' Get Your Mama!
"The Black Woman in the Civil Rights Struggle."
Awards Granted to Ella Baker.