“Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision”

by Barbara Ransby

2005 University of North Carolina Press

Just kept getting better as it went on. The writing style was not my favorite, the author seemed overly interested in teasing out categories or labels to apply to Baker’s life, rather than telling the bare facts. A more serious complaint is that the book spends hundreds of pages in Baker’s early life and upbringing, only to speed through the most politically interesting part of her life, in the Black Freedom Movement of the 50s and 60s. I’m sorry, but I can never get enough information about SNCC.

Nevertheless, it’s a good book, makes very useful points about radical democratic movement-building and education (that the role of the organizer is to bring people together and ask tough questions, and help nurture people to determine their own strategy and vision), and shows that Ella Baker above all others was the true mentor and parent of our grassroots organizing struggles today.