Ella Baker’s Early Life

“I’ve never credited myself with a professional life. But, basically, it has been that.” —Ella Baker

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Nicknamed “Fundi” for teaching the next generation, Ella Josephine Baker was born on December 13, 1903. Although born in Norfolk, Virginia, she grew up in North Carolina. Having heard stories of slavery from her grandmother, you can infer that equal rights was a topic close to her heart. This is proven throughout her life, starting in her college age.

Ella attended Shaw University in North Carolina and was known for trying to make the school’s policies honest. Once graduated, she moved to New York during the Great Migration and joined the workforce. She worked at American West Indian News and for the Worker’s Education Project in the late 20’s and early 30’s. She supported and founded a handful of causes, including the Negro History Club located at the Harlem Library.

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