Ella Baker: Freedom Bound By Joanne Grant “Her large purse firmly tucked under her arm, her beaded hat set at a jaunty angle, Ella Baker strode forth with determination in her eye, her gait, her whole demeanor” (45; Grant). In Ella Baker: Freedom Bound, Joanne Grant discusses the political activities of Ella Baker. This book is focused on the willpower with which Miss Baker worked for civil rights throughout her lifetime. She prospered in organizing movements, protests, meetings, sit-ins; which would change the position of freedom and equality forever. Ella Josephine Baker was born on the 13th of December 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia.
She was the granddaughter of a woman who disobeyed her master when he wanted her to marry a man of his choice. Baker was a very private person; in fact, many people around her did not even know that she was married for twenty years to T. J. Roberts. She graduated from Shaw University in 1927 as the valedictorian. After her graduation, Baker moved to New York City, where she soon joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as a field secretary. Later in her career as a political activist, she became the national director of the NAACP.
Miss Baker never halted anywhere in her career. She sought after bringing social change to the United States of America and she wanted to do that with great speed and precision. Miss Baker’s work is difficult to capture on paper. She was involved with all kinds of associations that were initiated through the desire to have equal rights and end segregation. She was unstoppable and worked like a machine to eliminate the flaws of the society. In 1957, she became one of the organizers of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (SCLC) She was the first director of this organization.
The main goal of the SCLC was to gain equal rights for all Americans. This organization was based on not only non-violence philosophies of Martin Luther King, but also included the attitude of love and happiness. After her work with the SCLC, Baker moved on to organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. This organization was pronounced, “snick” and it was established through the Shaw University. It allowed students of color a way of expression in a point in time when this was considered unimportant and a chance to be an important part of the civil rights movement.
Moreover, Baker received many awards for her work in the civil rights movement. In 1985, she received a doctorate of letters at City College, New York. She was also a great speaker. One of her greatest speeches is “The Black Woman in the Civil Rights Struggle”. In this speech, Ella points out that black women have struggled even more so than the white woman. The black women were required to become the backbone of the black man because his ego had been crushed by the society. Ella Baker concluded that a man should not need anybody to help him prove that he is a man, especially not a woman.
In her speeches, she calls for reform of the American society and questions whether we are capable of making and handling such reform. Ella Baker was highly motivated to bring change quickly to the country. She not only wanted to change the senseless aspects that made life difficult for African Americans, but also wanted to eliminate the low self esteem through which minorities became their own worst enemy. She believed that one must change oneself in an effort to change the world for the better. Miss Baker aided the American Labor Party (ALP) as much as she could.
The ALP was formed in 1936 in order to capture the votes of Americans who were laborers. Although Miss Baker was helping the reelection of President Roosevelt through the APL, she never associated herself to any political party. She had strict ideals of how a party and an organization should work. Although she networked for a considerable amount of organizations, Baker believed that SNCC came the closest to being in order. While she was in the NAACP, Baker “wrote a memo calling for job descriptions and salary specifications to end the inequities that she perceived in the organization”.
Ella Baker envisioned a certain type of order within the system of an organization; however, it was not easy to establish such guidelines so quickly. Ella Baker once said, “the problem in the South was not conservative thought or the radical thought, but lack of thought” (226). From the beginning to the end, this book strives to point out that Baker had a broader goal in life. Apparently, here was a colored lady, fighting for the civil rights of Black Americans; nevertheless, she was fighting to change the way people thought.
Her thoughts and philosophy had great depth. From reading this book, it was impossible to overlook her lack of desire of gaining popularity, appreciation, or fame from her work. She is a perfect role model for not only the people of her time, but also for the people here today. Until her last breath, Ella Baker struggles to end the struggle of human rights. She was a truly extraordinary human being. Another point the book makes is that it is extremely important to bestow your trust in youngsters.
Ella Baker always listened to what the students had to say and she never spoke until all had spoken at a discussions. She also encouraged the white students to fight against segregation as well, however, it was definitely not easy “’to cut loose from the umbilical cord either at home or at the university’” (151). She tried to address the issues of the young white community so they can have a personal reason to join the protests. Black students were very enthusiastic to make a difference in the movement and Ella Baker knew that without the young people, the change would never be everlasting.
I would love to recommend this book to all my classmates, colleges, friends and family because personalities like Baker should never be overlooked. There is always something that can be learned from people like herself. Often the role of women in reformation are ignored or not taught enough. We must remember the people whose struggle and dedication has allowed us the liberty we enjoy today. There is much to be learned from Ella Baker. This book portrays the how an individual can bring about change in the most difficult of circumstances.
In addition to this, if there is anything that I would have liked to read more about, it is Ella Baker’s family life. I would like to mention here that this book is strictly professional because it does not talk about Ella Bakers personal life at all. It would be unfair to blame the writer for this due to the fact that Ms Baker was an extraordinarily private person. In fact, she left no diaries or any sort of writings for her admirers and addressees. The only products of Ella Baker, we have, are letters she wrote to colleagues and interviews.
The material in the book was definitely relevant to this class. Ella Baker played a great role in African American politics. Almost all of the organizations of the civil rights movements discussed in class were categorically mentioned in Ella Baker: Freedom Bound. Moreover, the vital events and essential personalities that we discussed in class were mentioned in the biography as well. Baker was wholly involved in the movements and organizations that she was always dealing with all the renowned civil rights activists, such as Martin Luther King, W.
E. B. DuBois, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. There was a vigor with which Miss Baker wanted to change the thought process of Americans. She identified the flaws and she presented solutions. The American society is at a better position than ever before considering civil rights and liberties. However, even today, there are glitches deeply embedded in the system. There is no telling if a perfect society is possible, but there is no doubt that it may take many more social scientists, like Ella Baker, to reform society forever.