Ella Baker’s Group-Centered Leadership

Ransby

Dr. Barbara Ransby at the Lannan Foundation’s In Pursuit of Cultural Freedom series in 2016 (PC: Dan Usner).

An excerpt from Dr. Barbara Ransby’s “Ella Taught Me: Shattering the Myth of the Leaderless Movement,” originally published at Colorlines.com: 

Those who romanticize the concept of leaderless movements often misleadingly deploy [Ella] Baker’s words, “Strong people don’t need [a] strong leader.” Baker delivered this message in various iterations over her fifty-year career working in the trenches of racial-justice struggles, but what she meant was specific and contextual. She was calling for people to disinvest from the notion of the messianic, charismatic leader who promises political salvation in exchange for deference. Baker also did not mean that movements would naturally emerge without collective analysis, serious strategizing, organizing, mobilizing, and consensus-building. Continue reading