Ella Baker was born December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia.
Her parents had a total of 12 children but only three of them lived to adulthood, their names were Blake Curtis Baker, the eldest son, Ella Josephine Baker, the middle daughter, and Margaret Odessa Baker who was the youngest daughter. Baker grew up in Littleton, North Carolina. When she was young Ella was close to her grandmother, Josephine, who told her lots of stories about when she was a slave. One of them was when she was being forced to marry a man her enslaver choose for her but refused and got whipped and beaten. Josephine’s stories inspired Ella to make things right.
She eventually went to Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated as class valedictorian in 1927. At Shaw she challenged school policies the thought were unfair. Including, the school’s conservative dress code and racism of it’s president and methods of teaching religion.
After college, despite her mother’s hopes of her becoming a teacher, she wanted to be a medical missionary, sociologist, or a social worker. But Baker couldn’t afford foreign travel, medical school, or grad school so she ended up moving to New York. Even in New York situations were unfortunate.
Despite how smart she was Baker could only get waitressing and factory work jobs. In 1940, Ella Baker became secretary for the NAACP. A few years later an unfortunate event came upon and Baker had to leave to care for her niece. She tried to have the best of both worlds but that didn’t work out so she resigned from NAACP in 1946 because of travel.
In New York Baker worked for local organizations like the New York Urban League and the New York chapter of the NAACP. In 1957 Baker was moved to Alabama to help.Baker joined a bus boycott in Alabama to help stand up for black people.
In 1957 Ella joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She was the executive director and was to do at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King jr.
Baker even organized the big event of college students that led to the creation of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960