By Arek Lambert, Age 11

  1. I was born on December 13, 1903, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Georgianna Ross Baker and Blake Baker.
  2. I had two brothers, Prince Baker and Blake Curtis Baker, and one sister, Margaret Odessa Baker.
  3. I was a civil rights activist.
  4. I was one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). This was a key organization in the early days of the civil rights movement. As a form of protest, we fought against segregation by using the things that were legally reserved for White people only, including bathrooms, pools, restaurants, water fountains or certain bus seats.
  5. One of my quotes is, ”Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a White mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”
  6. I played a key role in some of the most influential organizations of the time, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
  7. I was part of Freedom Summer, an effort to focus national attention on Mississippi’s racism and to register Black voters. The Ku Klux Klan, police and state and local authorities carried out a series of violent attacks against the activists, including arson, beatings, false arrest and the murder of at least three people.
  8. I left the SCLC in 1960 after the Greensboro sit-in, a civil rights protest that started when young African-American students staged a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and refused to leave after being denied service. I wanted to support the young students to lead.  
  9. One of my beliefs was that “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.” I thought that you didn’t need one leader to be successful. You need many leaders, from the grassroots, without hierarchical structures. That’s what’s most empowering for ordinary people, especially women and low-income and working-class people. They don’t need one savior.
  10. I died in New York City on December 13, 1986, which was my 83rd birthday.