Network Delaware’s Ella Josephine Baker Black Organizers Group is for aspiring Black (African-American, Caribbean, African, Afro-Latino) organizers wishing to improve their skills to make an impact for racial justice and fight for Black liberation.
This small group immerses participants in the fundamentals of social change organizing, base building, leadership development, and campaign planning.
Selected participants will develop their skills through group workshops, campaign simulations, and working with guest speakers. Through out-of-class assignments (e.g. readings, videos, and exercises) participants will hone their ability to be successful Black organizers.
This program is for:
Aspiring Black individuals who want to organize Black communities and fight for Black liberation. This program is ideal for those who want to develop the political analysis and fundamental organizing skills to center Black issues in our state.
The program starts September 2019. The program meets from September - December on the following days (final schedule to be set with selected participants):
Through this program, participants will be able to:
This program involves a mix of facilitated class discussion, individual reading, involvement in an external “organizing project,” group work, etc. Below is the full breakdown of expectations.
1. In-person sessions
Through structured learning, participants will review course readings/videos and how they connect to their organizing project. Sessions will involve full- and small-group discussions, practice of skills, and guest presentations.
2. Practicing skills
All participants will do field practice assignments, join/create an issue campaign, or coordinate a neighborhood team in order to practice the skills used in the program.
3. Out-of-session assignments
Participants will occasionally be asked to work on an assignment in-between sessions. Some assignments could include: readings, watching videos, writing why they wish to run, researching policy, etc.
4. Coaching sessions
Interested participants may also have meetings with a coach during or after the program to better understand the process of organizing.
Who is Ella Josephine Baker?
Ella Josephine Baker was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist. She is known as a behind-the-scenes organizer. She was a fighter for social justice, black liberation, and against oppression. She was born December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, VA. Baker grow up in North Carolina, and that is where her social justice (fire) began, due to her grandmother’s stories of life during slavery. The strength of her grandmother was a great inspiration throughout Ms. Baker's life.
Baker studied at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. At school she challenged policies there that she thought were unfair. In 1927, Ella graduated as valedictorian. Ella then moved to New York City and began getting involved in different social activist organizations. In 1930 she joined the Young Negroes Cooperative League, serving as their first national director. The focus of this organization was to develop black economic power and gender equality. Baker was also apart of women’s organizations.
Baker’s endeavours then shifted to the fight against Jim Crow. In 1940 she joined the NAACP, where she was a field secretary, from 1943 to 1946 she was a branch director. Baker was a cofounder of In Friendship, in 1955, an organization that raised money to fight against Jim Crow Laws in the South. In 1957, Baker moved to Atlanta, GA to help MArtin Luther King Jr with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was also running Crusade for Citizenship, a voter registration campaign.
In April 1960, at Shaw University, Baker organized a meeting for student leaders. From that meeting the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was born. This was at the time when African Americans were trying to integrate into white society. She believed it was more than just the materialistic gain to consider. She took this opportunity to do what she does best, assisting others to empower themselves.Being inspired by Gandhi's non-violent theory, used as a tactic, the SNCC joined with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to organize freedom ride in 1961. In 1964 SNCC helped to create Freedom Summer, whose goal was to focus national attention on Mississippi’s racism and to register black voters. Baker continued to be a respected and influential leader in the fight for human and civil rights until her death on December 13, 1986, her 83rd birthday.
Why Ella Josephine Baker? We feel her words can best explain that.
Like most of us, Baker had and believed in a dream, saying "This may only be a dream of mine, but I think it can be made real." Network Delaware is a grassroots organization that believes in the power of developing regular people to make a difference.
Baker shared a very similar view saying “I have always thought that what is needed is the development of people who are interested not in being leaders as much as in developing leadership in others.” Here the words “Give light and people will find the way” fit best.
As an organizer it is not about being the face of the community. Ella Baker said “You didn't see me on television, you didn't see news stories about me. The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don't need strong leaders.”
Baker also spoke on the need of patience. “One of the things that has to be faced is the process of waiting to change the system, how much we have got to do to find out who we are, where we have come from and where we are going.”
We understand that history is the common denominator of many of today’s social, economic, and racial issues. The very arrival of who we today call African Americans was a crime against humanity. The praised colonizers of the Americas, genocided one ethnicity, then captured and enslaved another. From slavery, to Jim Crow, to mass incarceration, African Americans have always had a foot on their neck. From 1619 to 2019, we still have injustice in OUR community, so here we are still fighting for basic rights. As painful as it is we need to know what took place, because as in the words of Ella Josephine Baker, “In order to see where we are going, we not only must remember where we have been, but we must understand where we have been.”