SNCC 1960-1966: Six years of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Ella BakerElla Baker was born on December 13, 1903, in Norfolk, Virginia. Baker developed a sense for social justice early in her life. As a girl growing up in North Carolina, Baker listened to her grandmother tell stories about slave revolts. As a slave, her grandmother had been whipped for refusing to marry a man chosen for her by the slave owner.

Baker studied at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a student she challenged school policies that she thought were unfair. She graduated in 1927 as class valedictorian and then moved to New York City. Baker began joining social activist organizations. In 1930, she joined the Young Negroes Cooperative League. The League's purpose was to develop black economic power through collective planning. She also involved herself with several women's organizations.

In 1940, Baker began her involvement with the NAACP. She worked as a field secretary and then served as director of branches from 1943 until 1946 when she resigned from the NAACP staff. She remained an active volunteer after her resignation from the staff, Baker led the New York NAACP branch's fight to desegregate New York City public schools.

In 1957, Baker moved to Atlanta to organize Martin Luther King's new organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She also ran a voter registration campaign called the Crusade for Citizenship. Baker stayed at SCLC for two years although she disagreed with its policy of strong central leadership over grass-roots organization, saying "strong people don't need strong leaders.

" Baker left the SCLC after the Greensboro sit-ins. She wanted to help the new student activists and organized a meeting at Shaw University for the student leaders of the sit-ins in April 1960. From that meeting SNCC was born. Baker continued to take part in SNCC mostly as a quiet leader who listened and encouraged the young activists. She was widely respected by the students who referred to her as "Miss Baker."

Ella Baker died on December 13, 1986, in New York City.