Ella Baker Showed Us the Way to Promote Human Rights
May is national community action month in the United States. It was established by the Community Action Partnership to strengthen the role of Community Action Agencies in assisting low-income families to achieve economic stability.
Community Action Partnership is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization that provides technical assistance, training, and other resources to Community Action Agencies, nonprofit and public groups funded by the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), a federal program that allocates funding to states to connect Americans to greater opportunity.
How Do We Give Every Family an Opportunity for Success?
Community Action was born out of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty and from the advocacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 created the Community Action Network of national and locally focused organizations that connect millions of children and families to greater opportunity.
The nation’s Community Action Agencies embody our nation's spirit of hope to change people’s lives for the better and strengthen communities. When national, state and local leaders tap into these agencies’ experience, they can promote workable solutions that connect more families to opportunity — and make America a better place to live for everyone.
America was built on the promise that every family should have an opportunity for success. Yet today’s uneven economy has put a good quality of life out of reach for too many Americans. Some people are working to change that. These people take community action every day to help solve the biggest issues facing our communities.
'Do What Has to Be Done When It Has to Be Done'
In honor of community action month, we celebrate Ella Baker and recognize the people who take community action every day to help people gain self-sufficiency and transform our communities. Baker was the backbone of the civil rights movement and one of the foremost human rights advocates in U.S. history.
She served in the NAACP, helped create Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and much more. She believed in grassroots leadership and empowering individuals, families, and communities to succeed.
"Give light, and people will find the way," Ella Baker said.
In 1974, Baker delivered a powerful message at the Puerto Rico Solidarity Rally that remains more relevant than ever.
"Friends, brothers and sisters in the struggle for human dignity and freedom. I am here to represent the struggle that has gone on for 300 or more years. A struggle to be recognized as citizens in a country in which we were born. I have had 40 or 50 years of struggle. Ever since a little boy on the streets of Norfolk called me a n----r. I struck him back. And then I had to learn that hitting back with my fists one individual was not enough. It takes organization. It takes dedication. It takes the willingness to stand by and do what has to be done when it has to be done."