Ella Baker quotes take a deep look at what black people faced as they tried to rise above oppression. She was very vocal about what was going on in society and it all can be read in her many quotes. She spoke about Martin Luther King Jr. quite a bit and was very disappointed with how blacks in her day rallied regarding the past.
Ella Baker was an African-American human rights and civil rights activist. She often spoke about W.E.B Du Bois and worked with him, she was instrumental in many civil rights movements, but often worked in the background. Her career as an activist spans more than 50 years. They were times however she could be seen in the forefront and proved a great asset to many leaders of her time. Her work was mentioned by Barack Obama he said because of the Highlander Folk School issue he was the man he is today.
“The stuggle is eternal. The tribe increase. Somebody else carries on."
“Give light and people will find the way."
“One of the things that has to be faced is the process of waiting to change the system, how much we have got to do to find out who we are, where we have come from and where we are going."
“Unless you had developed a certain independence of value, a certain independent system of value, a system of values that was independent from this middle-class drive for recognition. This has been my explanation of part of [Martin Luther King] general role. So, he accepted this without too much resistance. In fact, none that I could ever see, and at certain points I was close enough to see something.”
“When I went to the Association [ National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] I learned a few things by observation. One of the things that used to strike me was [Walter White] need to impress people, even just people who came into the office.”
"From the Cooperative League, I suppose, with the Depression lingering as long as it did, the next step in terms of, as you call it, professional relationship, was to go to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP]. I went there as an assistant field secretary, and so forth. So, I suppose that was the first organized step."
“The anniversary of the Montgomery boycott was being celebrated, and the handbill that was out, and all whatever literature that was circulated, didn't say practically anything about movement or what the movement stood for, what it had done, or anything, but was simply adulation of the leader, you know, [Martin Luther] King."
“I had been friendly with people who were in the Communist party and all the rest of the Left forces, which were oriented in the direction of mass action."
“My association with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is sort of predated by an effort that we were a part of here in New York City regarding the reaction to this 1954 Supreme Court [Brown v Board of Education] decision."
“Both my parents came from North Carolina, in Warren County. My mother had a feeling that there was greater culture in North Carolina than obtained in Norfolk, Virginia, plus the fact she just didn't like the lowland-lying climate there."
“I went to what is known as, and was at that time, too, Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. In fact, because of the lack of public school facilities, I began there. I began boarding school at the high school level; in fact, a year below the high school level."
“Martin [Luther King] wasn't one to buck forces too much."
“In your short stay in Atlanta, I'm sure you saw that there was great competition between Martin's [Luther King] father and John Wesley Dobbs in terms of family status. You know, the bragging about whose child got a master's degree first and whose child, maybe, was the first Ph.D. Out of a background like that, the business of becoming a chairman of an important movement or a movement that symbolizes a certain amount of prestige is something you don't resist easily."
“I think, to be honest, sort of emanated from the initial work of somebody else instead of SCLC. If you take Albany; I don't know whether you recall how Albany got started. There were two little guys who went up there first. One was Cordell Hull who was then in his teens - not Cordell Hull - Cordell Reagan, who came out of the Nashville movement, and Charles Sherrod, who came out of the Richmond, Virginia, movement."
“My mother didn't feel very satisfied about the English background that I had received in the public schools in Littleton. So, she insisted that I take a year under the high school level. So, I was in boarding school nine years."
“I believe, the [Gunnar] Myrdal study had been made, and if we hadn't had anything else to raise questions, this in itself would have been something to provoke thought in the direction of the value of accommodating leadership."
“I suppose that the first organized effort that might be considered something of civil rights was the Young Negroes' Cooperative League. Now, this offers certain contradictions at this point, perhaps, because it was stimulated by the writings of George Schayler who, at this point, is considered an arch-conservative, I understand."
“In '32 we organized the Young Negroes' Cooperative League and had some degree of success in terms of establishing stores and certainly buying clubs in various sections of the country. I was designated as - I don't know what exactly - I believe it was director. I'm not sure what it was, but it had to do with getting out the necessary mail and all of that - organization."
“I think the reasons for not selecting persons like the Reverend Borders and John Wesley Dobbs were, in my book rather obvious reasons: because they were people who were basically oriented in the direction of the established method of not confronting the power structure, but trying to elicit concessions by various and sundry means of, well, let's call it accommodating leadership."
"One of the particular things that impressed me was one visitor [of NAACP] - I think it was - it wasn't the Prime Minister of England. We were located then on 14th Street and Fifth Avenue, up several flights of rickety stairs, and he came all the way up those stairs to see Walter [White], largely because of certain kinds of impact, I think, that the Association seemingly was having."
“[Walter White] had keep [people] waiting while you got the impression that he was terribly busy with calls to Washington. I've seen such exhibitions in that direction as having someone come out of his office to the switchboard operator - which at that time was sort of located in the center of wherever people were waiting - and ask to call such-and-such a place, or a call through to Mr. So-and-so, or somebody like this, you see."
"I think you can find some rationales for that if we look at the background out of which he came. Martin [Luther King] had come out of a highly competitive, black, middle-class background."
“I guess the best way to describe that would be to connect with the fact that I came out of college just before the big Depression, and I came to New York."
"Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was more politically oriented. Part and parcel of the initial SNCC efforts was to not only go in for voter registration, but for political participation."
“After the '57 initial meeting - I was up this way working, not as a staff person - there became the need for a much more definite organized office. What you'd had prior to that time were these big meetings in different places, and there was nobody to pull anything together. Everything was left to [Martin Luther] King and the group that was around him."
“Nixon was the one force in Montgomery for a number of years that made any effort in the direction of challenging the power structure. Ed Nixon's source of direction for that comes out of his relationship with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Care Porters and the Randolph philosophy of mass action. So, Ed Nixon really was the force that conceived of the boycott and drew up the original papers for the boycott."
“I'm sure, out of the context here of Stanley Levison's relationship with the Jewish liberal forces, that had made contributions. I remember one such contribution before they moved from Montgomery. An associate in the real estate business with Stanley had lost a son in the war, and she wanted to do something in memory of him. So, she made available certain monies to be used by the emerging leadership there in Montgomery. I'm sure other individuals did."
"I didn't have any close relationship with him because, although [William Edward Burghardt] DuBois may not have been as egocentric - I don't know - he certainly was not the easiest person to approach. I think, certainly, those of us who were younger sort of respected that in terms of his preoccupation with deep thoughts. So, I made no effort to establish any relationship with him. However, he was in and out then."
"[Walter White] was also one of the best lobbyist of the period."
“I don't think that the leadership of Montgomery was prepared to capitalize, let's put it, on the projection that had come out of the Montgomery situation. Certainly, they had not reached the point of developing an organizational format for the expansion of it. So discussions emanated, to a large extent, from up this way."
“This In Friendship - out of it came certain connections with the liberal labor establishment. Among the personalities that were involved were Bayard Rustin and a person from the American Jewish Congress, Stanley Levinson"
“My theory is, strong people don't need strong leaders."
“When I came out of the Depression, I came out of it with a different point of view as to what constituted success. And that was even just even personal success."
“I think personally, I've always felt that the Association [NAACP] got itself hung-up in what I call its legal successes. Having had so many outstanding legal successes, it definitely seemed to have oriented its thinking in the direction that the way to achieve was through the courts."
“I, perhaps, at that stage, had the kind of ambition that others may have had; you know, namely based on the concept that if you were trained the world was out there waiting for you to provide a certain kind of leadership and give you an opportunity. But with the Depression, I began to see that there were certain social forces over which the individual had very little control."
“I came out of a family background that involved itself with people."
“I believe, the NAACP began to try to organize parents of Negro children to file petitions with the boards of education regarding the integration of the school system. You had some very severe economic reprisals against people in Mississippi and in South Carolina. So, in order to try to help to meet some of the physical needs and the economic needs of people in Clarendon County [SC] who had been displaced from the land, and otherwise, and in certain sections of Mississippi, we organized in New York City something called "In Friendship."
“His name was Michael R. Ross. I've never known what the "R" was for. He died, however, before I was 7. But he and I seemed to have had quite a nice relationship. He always called me grandlady, and he'd always talk to you as a person rather than as a child. So, I would go with him for his routes in his horse and buggy. So, my memory of him is pretty sharp, plus it has been accentuated by the stories that come out of the family."
“I think that Walter's [White] whole career is indicative of a large degree of egocentricity. Perhaps to be generous, you would have to say that he was a product of his period, which was that of self-projection in the name of organizational interest."
“During the Depression years, I began to identify to some extent with the unemployed, the organization for the unemployed at that period."
“One of the stories that dominates our family literature was the fact that my maternal grandfather contracted for - I don't know under what terms - but, for a large section of the old slave plantation. He established himself - sisters and brothers, cousins, etc. on fifty- and sixty-acre plots."
“I have always felt it was a handicap for oppressed peoples to depend so largely upon a leader, because unfortunately in our culture, the charismatic leader usually becomes a leader because he has found a spot in the public limelight."
“I've never credited myself with a professional life. But, basically, it has been that."
Ella Baker quotes deals with a time that was rough for many American especially blacks. Angela Davis shared how she was inspired by Baker’s life and drew strength from her to become an activist herself. I hope her quotes prove some benefit to those who face the same trials she did in her day.