Ella J. Baker
Ella J. Baker
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was an organization of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s that came to be after several student meetings led by Ella Baker at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960.
Sit-ins, like the much-famed Woolworth sit-in in Greensboro in 1960, inspired many and galvanized a broader movement across the South. The Southern Christian Leadership Coalition, the NAACP and countless other organizations proliferated throughout the South, creating a broad network of organizers.
Baker was instrumental in the creation of the Southwide Youth Leadership Conference at her alma mater. The conference, held over the Easter holiday of 1960, "proved to be both powerful and productive". SNCC was born out of the conference and within it were two very powerful contingents: a wing devoted to direct action and a wing devoted to voter registration and the enfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of Black people across the United States.
SNCC sought to differentiate itself from the SCLC and the NAACP, and it did. SNCC was the vanguard within the southern Civil Rights movement, taking on greater risks than many other organizations. Freedom riders risked life and limb, entering the most dangerous pro-Jim Crow Deep South, fighting segregation and confronting violent opposition at the hands of racist police, FBI and residents.
By the mid-1960s, SNCC was not only combating oppression on the front lines in public spaces, but also organizing labor unions and political parties to fight the racist Southern Democratic or Dixiecrat machine. These activities further strengthened organizing in the South and paved the way for different factions of the group to go on to fight important battles there.
Match-making for MLK
Ella Baker and her fellow African-American civil-rights activist Bayard Rustin introduced secret Communist Party USA member Stanley Levison to Martin Luther King, Jr.. A special relationship developed; from the late 1950s until King's death, in 1968, it was without a doubt King's closest friendship with a white person. In December of 1956 and January of 1957 Levison served as Rustin's primary sounding board as Rustin drew up the founding-agenda documents for what came to be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
- Like Rustin, Levison, and Baker, King and a network of his southern African-American ministerial colleagues hoped that the SCLC could leverage the success of the Montgomery bus boycott into a South-wide attack on segregation and racial discrimination.
Hard Times Conference
In 1976 Ella Baker, representing the Mass Party Organizing Committee and the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee attended the Weather Underground and Prairie Fire Organizing Committee organized Hard Times Conference Jan 30 - Feb 1 at the University of Chicago..
In March 1979, the New York radical magazine the Guardian issued an emergency appeal to funds in an effort to save the publication.
Over fifty supporters endorsed the appeal including Ella J. Baker