Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A TRUE FASHION ICON: Happy Birthday Ms. Ella Baker

“You didn't see me on television, you didn't see news stories about me. (However, when she was in front of the camera she was stunning) The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don't need strong leaders.” 

Ella Baker believed in grassroots activism. She didn’t believe that the people would benefit from a spokesperson, but rather the people would benefit from agitating for their needs from the sweat of their own brows (“ahem” MLK—God rest his soul), which is why she founded SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) in 1960.

The spirit of Ella Baker’s activism is still so relevant today. In 2008, the citizens of the United States were looking for a strong leader. Through aggressive grassroots efforts, Barack Obama was elected. But some of those same grassroots activists invigorated by the hope offered by candidate Obama became disgruntled by the leadership style they expected from him. Arguably, Obama embodies the spirit of Ella Baker’s activism. Grassroots is not a buzzword for him; it’s not a campaign strategy. It’s a movement. Is Obama just as disappointed in his supported as they are in him? Will that movement pick up its steam  in 2012?

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