Ella Baker's Tradition

So, what does it mean to organize and work in Ella Baker's tradition?

We are a loose network of women who respect and admire Baker’s legacy, and are either interested in or already engaged in work that represents a continuation of her democratic, egalitarian humanistic tradition. We do not want to reinvent the wheel or duplicate or compete in any way with existing efforts. An argument can be made that the potential for a renewed progressive movement already exists and is embedded in the local trench work of organizers like Ella Baker. From the Atlanta-based work of women like Christi Ketchum at Project South to the amazing organizers of Power U in Miami to the work of Linda Burnham at the Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland to the performance artists of Mango Tribe in Chicago to tireless work of Ruby Sales at Spirit House in Washington -- and the list goes on. The problem is that much of this work is grounded in local communities and therefore not seen as "fronts" in a national movement. The mainstream media ignores us and many of the national organizations are so busy fighting the big fight that they are not building bridges to connect different sectors of the would-be movement. So, our overarching goal is to connect, to make visible, to facilitate collaborations and the sharing of information and resources among already existing and emergent organizations and campaigns.

Yes, we all already participate in and support other groups who share part of this mission but few groups have the express purpose of supporting and publicizing other groups. That is one contribution that Ella’s Daughters can make. And in addition there are too many women, writers, artists, unaffiliated activists who simply don't want to join what already exists. There is always something exciting about a new effort as long as it is in coordination with and not in competition with longstanding and deep-seated work that already exists. The reason Ella's Daughters is necessary is that for every informal mobilization or call to action that occurs there are ten that should have and didn't occur. To set up a network poised to intervene and doing ongoing networking puts us further down the road of building long-term movement infrastructure. It was also to provide a community where new collaborations could be conceived.

Why is there a need for this type of network? In some ways it is about using history as a tool for organizing and reclaiming a part of the history of progressive movements that can inspire us and push us in the direction of inclusive, pro-feminist, democratic and anti-racist organizing that respects and supports some of the most oppressed sectors of our communities. The creation of Ella's Daughters is also predicated on the notion that we have the ingredients for a movement, just not the recipe. There are many localized and issue-specific struggles around the country and the world. These are movement building blocks, patches of our movement quilt. And in the woman-centered quilting tradition, we need to take time to stitch those patches together to make something whole and functional.


• Highlight and publicize ongoing work through a website, emails and publicity campaigns. Make visible the extensive work that is ongoing and help women connect across geographic, issue, race and class divides.
• Help facilitate new initiatives in Ella Baker's tradition by connecting people with other people and with resources that can help to launch new projects
• Convene an annual or bi-annual gathering of the family of activists that constitute Ella’s Daughters in order to share, celebrate, strategize, commiserate and support one another.
• Advance awareness about Baker and those she worked with who represent the basic tenets of her beliefs.