The Ella Baker Educational  Project of NC will host Ella Baker Day 2018 on Friday, April 13, to honor the legacy of a civil rights activist who grew up near what is now Highway 158 in Littleton.

The woman who became known as ‘Fundi’

The valedictorian of the Class of 1927 at Shaw University in Raleigh, Baker moved to New York City, where she became involved in the Harlem Renaissance through organizing consumer cooperatives and working for the NAACP.

She later became active with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and other efforts. For her influence on the civil rights movement, Baker was nicknamed “Fundi,” a Swahili word meaning a person who teaches a craft to the next generation.  

Several books about her life are available, including “Ella Baker: Freedom Bound” by Joanne Grant, which was made into the documentary, “Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker.”

Baker has been honored with a historical marker on Highway 158 in Littleton near her childhood home, and April 15 has been designated by Warren and Halifax counties, and the town of Littleton, as Ella Baker Day. The date was selected to commemorate the weekend of April 15-17, 1960, when Baker began organizing the students at Shaw University to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Ella Baker Day activities

This year’s observance of Ella Baker Day will begin with an opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on the steps of her Littleton home. The day’s activities will then move to the Warren County Armory Civic Center in Warrenton.

Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. A civic fair featuring exhibits and presentations from community organizations will continue through noon.

A screening of the documentary, “Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker,” will be presented from 10-10:45 a.m.

Ella Baker’s legacy will be focus of discussion between 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. as the following speakers present remarks: Dr. Lenora Taitt-Magubane, Freedom Rider; Dr. Carolyn Brockington, Baker’s great-niece; and Dr. Lea E. Williams, author of “We Who Believe in Freedom.” The presentations will include a question-and-answer period.

The day will also include advocacy updates, “Bring on the Broadband-Internet Connect,” a follow-up to last year’s Ella Baker Day panel discussion on making broadband internet access available in rural areas, and “Registered and Ready! Vote 2018.”

The event will conclude with the presentation of the Ella Baker Honors Awards.

All events are open to the general public. The Warren County Armory Civic Center is at 501 U.S. Hwy. 158 business east, Warrenton.

For more information, visit the website, ellabakereducationalprojectofnc.org.