Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision

ISBN: 0807856169
ISBN 13: 9780807856161
By: Barbara Ransby

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Genres

American History Biography Black Studies Civil Rights Currently Reading History Non Fiction Nonfiction Race To Read

About this book

One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of lives. A gifted grassroots organizer, Baker shunned the spotlight in favor of vital behind-the-scenes work that helped power the black freedom struggle. She was a national officer and key figure in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a prime mover in the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Baker made a place for herself in predominantly male political circles that included W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King Jr., all the while maintaining relationships with a vibrant group of women, students, and activists both black and white. In this deeply researched biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker's long and rich political career as an organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher, from her early experiences in depression-era Harlem to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Ransby shows Baker to be a complex figure whose radical, democratic worldview, commitment to empowering the black poor, and emphasis on group-centered, grassroots leadership set her apart from most of her political contemporaries. Beyond documenting an extraordinary life, the book paints a vivid picture of the African American fight for justice and its intersections with other progressive struggles worldwide across the twentieth century. One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of lives. In this deeply researched biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker's long and rich political career as an organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher, from her early experiences in depression-era Harlem to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Ransby paints a vivid picture of the African American fight for justice and its intersections with other progressive struggles worldwide across the twentieth century.

Reader's Thoughts

Darla

FABULOUS book!!!!!!!!! What an incredible woman!!!!!!!!!

Matthew

Any book that gives a clear picture of the political life of Ella Baker is an important book.

Linda

Loved learned about Ella Baker and her role in the Black Freedom movement. She was a visionary for civil rights and for women's rights--one that we don't often hear about.

Sara

I loved this book. The writing wasn't my favorite ever - I think the book is geared towards academic use and a lot of points get repeated over and over - but Ella Baker was an amazing woman. Baker's career spanned from the 1930's to the 1970's. I haven't read many books that talk about the older people who made contributions to the liberation movements of the 60's or that show in such detail some of foundation building that occurred in the decades before.I not only learned a lot from reading the book, but I was thoroughly inspired. She was an activist and organizer who continued to make meaningful and valuable contributions as she got older, and Ransby's depiction of her political development and evolution is certainly thought-provoking. Ransby also manages to place her within larger contexts which add to the story and to better understanding the many elements that are part of radical political culture in the US and Baker's role within that.Baker moved through many organizations throughout her career, and found ways to shape her paying jobs to work for her larger political goals. Seeing an example of this meant a lot to me. It was so great to read about someone who held and maintained a vision and community that is outside of doctrines yet very firmly rooted, and was able to make it real too.

Jennifer

A really great interpretation of the life of an amazing woman. I can't say enough good things about this book. I hope to keep its lessons in my mind as I navigate the minefield of community organizing.

Laura Taylor

great descriptions of her organizing style- useful!

Pia

Ella Baker is such an essential part of the Civil Rights movement, and until recently women in the movement had not received not nearly enough attention, so this book is a welcome addition.

Daryl Grigsby

Ella Baker, committed to the people

Alexia

interesting look at the life of someone who did so much for Civil Rights, but received little credit. I enjoyed the examination of grass roots vs. leader-led action.

James Tracy

Really one of my favorite history books. Not enough people know about the legacy of this great freedom-fighter. Many of her lessons are extremely relevant to today's activists.

Pascal

One of the best histories of an American Civil Rights leader I've read. The importance of Ella Baker to the Civil Rights Movement, compounded with her dedication to a democratic bottom up leadership strategy that empowered the dispossessed to take revolutionary leadership of their liberation is unparalleled. Not only a great biography, but a great history of the Civil Rights Movement.

LaDon Love

Great book on the movement and the influence of a woman named Ella Baker in developing the authentic voice and energy of young people in the civil rights movement.

Isaac Holloway

Excellent review of Baker's activist career. Focusing on her leadership style and influence in a variety of different organization. Text does tend to jump around a little bit chronologically speaking but that's really just a minor personal peeve thing rather than a detriment to the text. I find that the greatest value of this book is the Bakers desire to empower people to be their own leaders and how she lived that praxis while navigating the various political affiliations of a 5 decade activist career.

Karlyn

If I were ever to plug just one book, this would be it. Ransby does justice to Ms. Baker's life work.

Theresa

Really great. Though I am rarely, if ever, a fan of historical biographies, this was riveting both because it was about a pretty awesome lady (Ella Baker) whose influence in the Civil Rights Movement is overlooked for various reasons and because Ransby really does well with moving between in-depth personal biography and a more broad historical and social analysis. It's long, but it goes quickly.

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