Why Ella Baker And MLK Didn’t See Eye To Eye

civil rights protestors marching
Leslie Taylor-Grover
December 13, 2021

MLK “Fathered” the Civil Rights Movement, but Ella Baker was its “Mother!” 

Some even say the movement would have failed without her! So why don’t more of us know about her?

While MLK was frontlining the movement, Baker was doing MAJOR work behind the scenes. She organized campaigns, recruited thousands of people, and inspired future leaders like Rosa Parks. 

Baker’s work drove the movement – but she frequently wasn’t credited.

Ironically, another white supremacist system had power during that time period: sexism. 

MLK fell into its trap – and ONLY appointed men to recognized leadership roles. But Baker wouldn’t be silenced! They’d have to come together in the name of Black liberation – or everything could fall apart.

Eventually, they were able to put aside their differences enough to recognize unity was more important than ego, and the movement required empowered leaders of all genders to succeed. 

Baker went on to organize thousands of people, creating grassroots groups like SNCC. Today, her legacy continues through the Ella Baker Center, which brings power and prosperity to Black and brown communities.  

Together, Baker and MLK fueled the Civil Rights movement, showing that multiple tactics and leadership styles are needed to beat white supremacy – and that ALL of us have a role to play in the movement toward Black liberation!

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