Who Deserves A Monument In NC? Ella Josephine Baker, An 'Unsung' Civil Rights Leader

Jul 20, 2015

We recently sent out a survey asking about monuments in North Carolina. The State Director of Historic Sites said North Carolina needs more monuments, and we want to know who you want to see receive a monument, memorial or statue. Click here to fill out your response.

Michael Hill of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources recommends honoring Ella Josephine Baker in a statue on the grounds of Shaw University in Raleigh. Baker was a prominent civil rights leader, and helped start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960.

Ella Josephine Baker
Credit The Ella Baker Center for Hman Rights / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Baker was born in Norfolk, V.A. and moved to North Carolina as a child. She graduated from Shaw University in 1927 as class valedictorian, leaving behind a legacy of social justice by challenging unfair university policies.

After graduation, Baker would go on to play a key role within influential organizations, including the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She would also mentor civil rights activists Rosa Parks and Diane Nash.

In 1960, Baker returned to North Carolina and helped set up an event at Shaw University for student leaders. The meeting was a chance for young activists to organize around civil rights in the wake of the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro. It led to the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

To learn more about the "unsung hero" Ella Josephine Baker, watch the video below: