Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, Second Edition

A Radical Vision

Second edition

By Barbara Ransby

With a new preface by the author and a new foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, Second Edition

Approx. 512 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-8134-4
    Published: October 2024

Gender and American Culture

Paperback Available October 2024, but pre-order your copy today!

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One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903โ€“1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of lives. A gifted grassroots organizer, Baker shunned the spotlight in favor of vital behind-the-scenes work that helped power the Black freedom struggle. Making her way in predominantly male circles while maintaining relationships with a vibrant group of women, students, and activists, Baker was a national officer and key figure in the NAACP, a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a prime mover in the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

In this definitive biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker's long and rich career, revealing her complexity, radical democratic worldview, and enduring influence on group-centered, grassroots activism. Beyond documenting an extraordinary life, Ransby paints a vivid picture of the African American fight for justice and its intersections with other progressive struggles worldwide throughout the twentieth century.

About the Authors

Barbara Ransby is John D. MacArthur University Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Black Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she directs the Social Justice Initiative. A longtime activist in progressive social movements, her most recent book is Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century.
For more information about Barbara Ransby, visit the Author Page.

Robin D. G. Kelley is Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Chair of History at the University of California Los Angeles.
For more information about Robin D. G. Kelley, visit the Author Page.


"A magisterial rendering of one of the greatest radical democrats in the twentieth century."โ€”Cornel West

"Among the most vivid [civil rights] movement biographies of recent years."โ€”Washington Post

"Ransby's passionate and demanding book offers a striking, thorough exposition of Baker's expansive, radical, humanist vision."โ€”Chicago Tribune

"Moving and invaluable."โ€”The Nation

"Writing the biography of a legend is a daunting task, and it is one that Barbara Ransby has accomplished thoroughly and gracefully."โ€”American Historical Review