Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965

By Davis W. Houck; David E. Dixon | Go to book overview

§99 Ella Josephine Baker

Ella Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia. Raised in Littleton, North Carolina on land her grandparents had worked as slaves, Baker came of age under the careful guidance of her activist and deeply religious mother, Anna. Upon graduating as valedictorian from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1927, Baker headed north to Harlem. She would cut her organizing teeth in the city, working for the Young Negroes Cooperative League and other poverty relief organizations. Baker began working for the NAACP in 1940 and quickly earned a reputation as a nonpareil organizer of black youth. From 1943 to 1946 Baker worked as national director of NAACP branches; later she served as president of the New York City branch and led the fight to desegregate the city’s schools. In 1956 Baker, along with two of Martin Luther King’s closest confidantes Stanley Levison and Bayard Rustin, formed In Friendship, a fundraising organization designed to aid victims of discrimination in the South. Such was her organizing acumen, that Levison and Rustin persuaded King to bring Baker to the fledgling Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) headquarters in Atlanta. She would serve as executive director of the organization for a year.

During her stint at SCLC as well as her earlier work in the NAACP, Baker grew suspicious of a leader-centered approach to civil rights, especially among glory seeking black preachers. Instead, she favored a grassroots model of vigorous and active local participation. Such an ethos was at the very heart of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a group she helped to found. In April 1960, while the student sit-in movement was in full ferment, Baker called a conference of youth leaders at Shaw University. Sponsored by the SCLC, Baker steered the students away from formally aligning themselves with the black clergydominated group. “Miss Baker,” as she was known among SNCC workers, was a civil rights free agent throughout the 1960s, working seemingly wherever organizing work needed to be done. Baker is also credited with helping to create and organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), leading its Washington, D.C. office. An activist to the last, Ella Baker died on her birthday in 1986. Her papers are housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Schomberg Center at the New York Public Library in New York City, and the Wisconsin State Historical Society in Madison.

Like so many other women active in the movement, precious few of Baker’s speeches survive despite her constant presence on the civil rights battlefield. But this brief address at the Hattiesburg Freedom Day voter registration event, transcribed from the Moses Moon Audio Archive, captures something of Baker’s approach to the movement—including a reproach, though gentle, to the man who introduces her, Clarksdale’s Dr. Aaron Henry. Baker refuses to be characterized

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Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1954 17
  • 1954 - §1 Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson 19
  • §2 Charles P. Bowles 31
  • §3 Reverend A. Powell Davies 36
  • §4 Frank P. Graham 42
  • §5 Mary Mcleod Bethune 49
  • §6 Dr. Benjamin E. Mays 55
  • §7 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 65
  • §8 William Lloyd Imes 71
  • 1955 77
  • 1955 - §9 Sarah Patton Boyle 79
  • §10 Sarah Patton Boyle 82
  • §11 William Lloyd Imes 87
  • §12 Dr. James Hudson 93
  • §13 Mary Mcleod Bethune 96
  • §14 Roy Wilkins 99
  • §15 Albert D’orlando 107
  • §16 Dr. T. R. M. Howard 116
  • §17 Mamie Till-Bradley 131
  • §18 Reverend Robbins Ralph 145
  • §19 Sarah Patton Boyle 150
  • 1956 155
  • 1956 - §20 Branch Rickey 157
  • §21 Reverend Paul N. Carnes 166
  • §22 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 172
  • §23 Horace Mann Bond 178
  • §24 Dr. James Hudson 187
  • §25 Dr. T. R. M. Howard 192
  • §26 Roy Wilkins 196
  • §27 Reverend D. Perry Ginn 202
  • 1957 207
  • 1957 - §28 P. D. East 209
  • §29 Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr 216
  • §30 Reverend James A. Pike 224
  • §31 Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson 239
  • §32 Representative Adam Clayton Powell 243
  • §33 A. Philip Randolph 246
  • §34 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 250
  • §35 Dr. Channing H. Tobias 256
  • §36 Shad Polier 266
  • §37 Reverend Marion A. Boggs 270
  • §38 Reverend A. Powell Davies 277
  • §39 Marion A. Wright 284
  • 1958 293
  • 1958 - §40 Reverend James R. Bullock 295
  • §41 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 302
  • §42 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 308
  • 1959 313
  • 1959 - §43 Chester Bowles 315
  • §44 Rabbi Max D. Davidson 325
  • §45 Reverend Colbert S. Cartwright 327
  • §46 Reverend Carlos E. Martin 333
  • §47 Reverend Edward Hughes Pruden 340
  • 1960 345
  • 1960 - §48 Governor Leroy Collins 347
  • §49 Reverend James Lawson 356
  • §50 Everett Tilson 362
  • §51 Dr. Benjamin E. Mays 368
  • §52 Dr. Frank P. Graham 377
  • §53 Reverend Edler Garnet Hawkins 382
  • §54 Reverend Will D. Campbell 385
  • §55 Leroy Collins 397
  • 1961 403
  • 1961 - §56 Dr. Haywood N. Hill 405
  • §57 Colbert S. Cartwright 408
  • §58 Reverend William O. Byrd 412
  • §59 Robert J. Mccracken 417
  • §60 Reverend Duncan Howlett 421
  • §61 Rev. Ralph David Abernathy 430
  • §62 Marion A. Wrigth 437
  • §63 James Mcbride Dabbs 445
  • 1962 455
  • 1962 - §64 Heslip “happy” Lee 457
  • §65 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 464
  • §66 Robert H. Walkup 468
  • §67 Robert H. Walkup 472
  • §68 Charles L. Stanford, Jr 476
  • §69 Reverend Duncan M. Gray, Jr 478
  • §70 Reverend George A. Chauncey 483
  • §71 James Mcbride Dabbs 489
  • §72 James Mcbride Dabbs 502
  • §73 Marion King 510
  • 1963 513
  • 1963 - §74 Reverend J. Claude Evans 515
  • §75 Reverend James A. Pike 522
  • §76 Edler Garnet Hawkins 527
  • §77 Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker 533
  • §78 Reverend J. V. Cosby Summerell 543
  • §79 James Bevel 547
  • §80 Bruce William Klunder 559
  • §81 Eugene Carson Blake 566
  • §82 Francis Gerald Ensley 574
  • §83 Eugene Carson Blake 581
  • §84 Archbishop Patrick O’boyle 583
  • §85 John Lewis 584
  • §86 Charles Morgan, Jr 587
  • §87 Reverend George H. Woodard 591
  • §88 Dick Gregory 596
  • §89 Dr. Arthur E. Shelton 622
  • §90 Frank T. Wilson 627
  • §91 Dave Dennis 631
  • §92 Dave Dennis 634
  • §93 Dr. Aaron Henry 637
  • §94 James Mcbride Dabbs 647
  • §95 Reverend Duncan Howlett 656
  • §96 David G. Colwell 662
  • §97 Robert W. Spike 667
  • §98 Reverend Lawrence Campbell 676
  • 1964 684
  • 1964 - §99 Ella Josephine Baker 685
  • §100 Reverend Edward W. Harris 688
  • §101 Reverend L. Wilson Kilgore 698
  • §102 Reverend Duncan Howlett 705
  • §103 James Mcbride Dabbs 713
  • §104 Mildred Bell Johnson 719
  • §105 Ralph David Abernathy 729
  • §106 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 738
  • §107 Thomas Merton 743
  • §108 Robert W. Spike 752
  • §109 Albert D’orlando 758
  • §110 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 766
  • §111 Robert W. Spike 768
  • §112 Dave Dennis and Reverend Edwin King 774
  • §113 Fannie Lou Hamer 784
  • §114 Father Theodore M. Hesburgh 794
  • §115 Reverend Robert J. Mccracken 813
  • 1965 819
  • 1965 - §116 Kelly Miller Smith 821
  • §117 Hearings before the United States Commission on Civil Rights 826
  • §118 Charles F. Wittenstein 852
  • §119 Reverend Duncan Howlett 857
  • §120 Albert D’orlando 865
  • §121 Roy Wilkins 871
  • §122 Robert A. Reed 873
  • §123 Reverend Duncan Howlett 877
  • §124 Morris B. Abram 884
  • §125 Jonathan Daniels 891
  • §126 Daniel Berrigan 898
  • §127 Reverend Ralph David Abernathy 902
  • §128 Kelly Miller Smith 908
  • §129 Gardner C. Taylor 914
  • §130 Theodore Parker Ferris 919
  • Bibliography 925
  • Index 971
  • Permissions Acknowledgments 997
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