Create a holiday to honor Ella Baker in South Carolina
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WHEREAS, Ms. Ella Jo Baker, 1903-1986, spent much of her life organizing in the South and has served both this great nation and this region as a leader, educator, and activist on behalf of underprivileged communities; and
WHEREAS, Baker was the granddaughter of enslaved Africans; and
WHEREAS, Baker strongly advocated that the common (wo)man, not solely recognized leaders, are the backbone of this country; and
WHEREAS, Baker is a model for working across party lines and ideological differences to build strong, effective coalitions; and
WHEREAS, Baker dedicated her life to serving those less fortunate by participating in a broad base of organizations including but not limited to the American Federation of Labor, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Voter Education Project; and
WHEREAS, the United States Postal Service honored Baker with a postage stamp as part of a special issue commemorating Civil Rights Pioneers; and
WHEREAS, numerous historical and other scholarly texts have documented Baker's lifelong participation in social movements; and
WHEREAS, it is fitting to recognize Ms. Ella Jo Baker as one of our nation’s greatest unsung heroes, as loved and appreciated by all those who had the opportunity to work alongside her, as an eternal believer in the potential, dignity, and importance of all people, and as an honorable and dedicated citizen; and
WHEREAS, April 16th marks the weekend that Ella Baker helped the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) come to fruition;
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the residents of South Carolina, do suggest the recognition of April 16 as Ella Baker Day in South Carolina and call the attention of all our citizens.
Ella Josephine Baker was born December 13, 1903, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Georgianna Ross Baker and Blake Baker. Both sets of her grandparents grew up under slavery. Baker, with the support and encouragement of her family, graduated in April 1927 from Shaw University in North Carolina and was valedictorian. She moved on to become one of this nation's greatest activists and worked tirelessly to better the living conditions and opportunities for those less fortunate. Baker was known for her sincere belief in the potential and dignity of every individual.
Ms. Baker was an educator, an activist, and a leader who worked with numerous organizations and touched the lives of many. Some of the most notable organizations are the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Ms. Baker passed away on December 13, 1986, in New York. She has been recognized by many as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement. (Source: Ransby, Barbara. Ella Baker & The Black Freedom Movement)
Beyond recognizing the many contributions of this amazing individual, an Ella Baker Day campaign will draw greater attention to the ongoing value of community organizing and roles that women and people of color have played in the creation of this nation.
For more information see: www.supportellabakerday.com
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