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MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: Ella Baker, My Civil Rights Heroine

Marian Wright Edelman | 4/2/2014, 3 p.m.
Marian Wright Edelman (Courtesy of childrensdefense.org)

Ella Baker was fully aware of but unintimidated by the men she worked with who devalued the advice of women and sometimes resented her forcefulness, prodding, and “mothering.” She made no special effort to be ingratiating. She labored at SCLC as she had at the NAACP to raise money, conduct voter registration drives, speak to citizens groups (sometimes ten times a day), and travel to community after community to help people help themselves.

I remember her counsel as I think about sustaining and strengthening the Children’s Defense Fund’s mission today and future tomorrow for the long haul struggle to create and maintain a level playing field for every child. I learned from her the crucial importance of training a successor generation of young servant-leaders which has been a strong priority of CDF’s since its inception.

We all honor Ella Baker by keeping her belief in freedom and equality alive until it becomes reality for every mother’s child.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.