Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision, by Barbara Ransby (review)

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, by Barbara Ransby (University of North Carolina Press, 2003)

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Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision, by Barbara Ransby (review)

by Charles M. Payne
Southern Cultures, Vol. 10, No. 3: Fall 2004

University of North Carolina Press, 2003

Ella Baker remains a compelling figure because of her confidence in the capacities of ordinary citizens, because of her persistence, her rejection of dogmas and of hierarchies of race, class, education, and gender, because of her passionate commitment to developing leadership in others, because of her willingness to sublimate her ego to her politics, because of her limitless confidence in young people, because of her insistence on principled and supportive human relationships—in short, because of the clarity of her commitment to democracy as both means and end. (Although to speak of radical democracy, as historian Larry Goodwyn points out, is to say one thing twice.) Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement is a most welcome addition to the resources available for learning about her and the tradition of social critique she exemplifies.