Ella Baker was an influential figure who fought against racial segregation and discrimination against Black people for her whole life. Her full name is Ella Josephine Baker, and she was born on December 13, 1903, in Norfolk, Virginia. She was raised in North Carolina and developed a strong sense of justice early on due in part to her grandmother's stories about life under slavery. Ella Baker's grandmother was once whipped for refusing to marry a man chosen by the enslaver. However, her resilience and continued struggle against racism and injustice continued to inspire Ella Baker throughout her life.
Following her early life, she became involved with organizations fighting against racism directed toward Black people in the US. She believed that everyone should have equal human rights. Ella Baker was one of the leaders of the SNCC (Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). She led a large group of Black college students to desegregate the South. Approximately 300 Black and White college students attended a three-day conference sponsored by SCLC, which Ella Baker organized.
SNCC came about in the 1960s during the critical Black-led Civil Rights Movement in America. Racial segregation and inequality were rampant, profoundly influencing the formation and actions of the SNCC. The group's main goal was to end racial segregation and fight for the rights of Black Americans, with a particular focus on the university environment and registering Black people to vote. SNCC's organizing methods and philosophies were profoundly impactful and continue to have positive impacts on activists today. Their thoughtful grassroots, anti-hierarchical strategies and unwavering commitment to nonviolence played a significant role in promoting the Civil Rights of African Americans, sparking a broad conversation about fairness and justice that continues today. My Wayfinder wants to promote Ella Baker’s spirit and let people know more about SNCC. So on the front of the Wayfinder, I put Ella Baker’s photo to honor her. In the headline, I put four words about Ella Baker. The first word is "empowering." I want to show her robust and unstoppable commitment to fighting discrimination and racial segregation against Black people. The second word is "grassroots." I want to use this word to describe Ella Baker. She was raised lower class. She wanted to change unequal situations and make positive change in America. She wasn’t alone in her unfair treatment, and many Black people faced the same oppression as her, so she wanted to gather this grassroots power to overthrow the racism they all faced. Furthermore, the last two words are "unyielding" and "compassionate." Unyielding means she was a person who did not give up the whole time. Compassionate means she used her passion and kindness to help others.
Lastly, I chose the color red for these four words to vividly depict her unwavering determination within the Civil Rights and Black Liberation movements. Additionally, I collaged images on the back page to visually portray this movement, including a SNCC sign and slogan.
Ella Baker, c. 1944.
Image: Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com
My sketchbook keeps track of all the outlines I did during the summit. It shows what I did each day and some of my pieces of work. The first work on my sketchbook is that day we went to the University of Washington and saw a monument called the Statue of George Washington. I took a picture of that statue, clipped it, and made another piece of work that looked like a palace. For the second one, we went to the AIDS Memorial Project. I learned some history and stories about LGBTQ groups and how they organize their power against AIDS and stigma. I also made a small "memory map" of that monument. Last we visited a Bonsai museum to see all kinds of Bonsai. Moreover, I know how Bonsai trees are building history, and I took a picture of one Bonsai and showed my connection with that Bonsai. When we got back, we sketched our favorite Bonsai, and then we did watercolor to make it beautiful.
My name is William Xu, and I am currently a junior student who is studying at NWS. I came from China and was raised in Shenzhen. I came here for my sophomore year. One of my passions is exploring various forms of art, with the inspiration and aspiration of becoming an artist in the future. This dream brings me immense fulfillment and joy. I also like connecting with new friends, engaging in enriching discussions, and having a great time together. The atmosphere of this summit attracts me, as it provides a peaceful setting and an enjoyable classroom environment. Through my masterpiece, I am going to let people know more about a 20th-century social movement, specifically focusing on the remarkable figure Ella Baker and her impact on SNCC. Overall, I found this project both fascinating and meaningful. Finally, I appreciate James Blake's work to help us to make a cute and fun wood Wayfinder so we could put our designs on it. Thank you to Connor Virzi for being my editor. Below are some of the photographs I took on 6.15.2022 in NYC.