Why Ella Baker Disagreed With MLK

Civil Rights March on Washington
Leslie Taylor-Grover
August 28, 2020

MLK always appointed men to the front lines, as he didn’t think women should lead. But Ella Baker wanted to break that tradition. Could she?

While she wasn’t looking for recognition, Baker needed more power in the movement in order to bring marginalized voices to the table. While it was important to be in the limelight sometimes, it was also important to listen. Could she get MLK to see this?

Baker’s job made MLK’s possible. While he was on the frontlines, she spent hours listening to the stories of our people, helping them develop the self-worth to fight for their rights – building the “foot soldiers” of the movement. What would MLK decide?

Of course, he was not about to let racism win, and knew they had to work together. Baker went on to organize thousands of people, found grassroots student groups like SNCC, and uplift Black communities.

Her community organizing fueled the Civil Rights movement alongside the inspirational orations of MLK. They both came to understand one thing.

The effects of white supremacy are powerful, and multiple tactics and leadership styles are necessary to include everyone – our unity is our strength!

Like Baker, we must empower our people with encouragement and support so they will have the courage to fight with us for liberation, both on and off the frontlines.

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