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Ella Baker

After graduating from Shaw University, Ella Baker moved to New York City and began her career as a grassroots organizer. Joining the NAACP in 1940, the Virginia native assisted in developing some of the brightest minds in the Civil Rights Movement.

Baker charged people like Rosa Parks to stand up and speak out. Through her organizing efforts, she assisted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the creation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was helping to build the Civil Rights Movement. After a string of sit-ins in the 1960s, she joined a group of students who would go on to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Baker ignited the fight in a generation of young Americans who would go on to risk their own freedom for the advancement and equality of all black people.

Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr.— with additional commentary from Farrah Griffin of Columbia University, Diane Nash, and Rep. John Lewis — we sing the highest praises to the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. This freedom fighter’s tireless commitment to liberty paved the way for the freedoms we have today.

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