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Ella Baker

One of the leading figures of the Civil Rights Movement which took place in the 1950s and 1960s, Ella Baker, was born in Virginia in 1903. Growing up in North Carolina, Baker had a close relationship with her grandmother, a former slave, and heard narrations of many of the experiences which the latter lived through.

Baker was an intelligent child and attended Shaw University in Raleigh, becoming the valedictorian for the batch of 1927. Upon graduating, she relocated to New York City where she juggled between various jobs to fulfill her basic needs. Before she became involved in Civil Rights Movement, Baker contributed to the start-up of a club, Young Negroes’ Cooperative League, which permitted its members to accumulate their funds in order to benefit from better deals on goods and services. In the preceding years, she also served on the editorial boards of American West Indian News and Negro National News.

Beginning work for the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1938, Baker frequently travelled to various parts of the country in order to raise funds and recruit new people to the NAACP. Initially starting off as a field secretary, Baker was promoted to the organization’s national director of branches for her extensive work in issues related to job training and equal pay for black workers. Realizing the demanding nature of the job, Baker resigned in 1946 to look after her niece but continued work with the New York branch for better academic prospects of black children.

In 1953, Ella Baker ran for New York City Council on the Liberal Party ticket. Following this failure, the independent individual worked as Director of the Harlem Division of the New York City Committee of the American Cancer Society.

Four years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked Baker to take up the position of Executive Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights group headed by African Americans, to which she agreed. It was Baker who initiated the creation of the

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