Shout out to Ella Baker—transcendent leader and civil rights activist.
Before Stacey Abrams, it was you who presciently understood the power of grassroots organizing. You focused on group-centered leadership that could withstand the imprisonment or even assassination of individual magnetic leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. You were a revelation to the movement who often intimidated men of clergy who were troublingly unaccepting of women in positions of independent leadership. Through unverified gossip, you were falsely accused of metaphorically digging ditches when you were actually building bridges.
Occasionally considered exuberantly irrational, you fought relentlessly to invoke racial reform. You precociously comprehended that change could only sustain when the number of Black people in positions of power are proportionate to the total Black population at similar levels to authority figures of other races and their corresponding contingent.
You passed away on your 83rd birthday in 1986. And you bequeathed a lasting legacy of human and civil rights activism from New York to Atlanta, from the Great Depression to the Civil Rights Movement.
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