Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

Ella Baker was a vital grassroots activist in the Civil Rights Movement. She believed in the power of ordinary people and promoted radical participatory democracy. She worked tirelessly for voting rights, never making headlines for herself, always working and organizing behind the scenes. She criticized top-down charismatic leadership, putting forth a vision of the leadership of people and communities, rather than of one man or woman. The wonderful “Ella’s Song,” written by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock, has the incredible line:

“I’m a woman who speaks in a voice, and I must be heard. At times I can be quite difficult – I bow to no man’s word.”

Listen here:

And check out the work of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights!