Ella Josephine Baker: An Analysis of Liberatory Leadership
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 1997 T165
viii, 119 leaves; 29 cm.
This thesis analyzes the life and political leadership endeavors of Ella Josephine Baker, a Black woman civil rights activist, to examine the nature of leadership and its relationship to the Black community. Her activism spanned over fifty years across a number of Black-oriented organizations which allowed her to employ many diverse methods of organizing. These methods include a highly democratic, group-centered form in which she facilitated the political participation of ordinary individuals in their own communities. This work outlines the way in which she conceptualized power and carried out her political agenda. Further, the traditional concept of leadership is reconstructed not only to be more inclusive, but also to be more liberatory in nature. Liberatory leadership, defined in this thesis, refers to the conscious and deliberate efforts an individual makes to ensure that power actually works for the people. Moreover, that the people are actively engaged in the political process to realize socioeconomic change in their communities. Finally, this thesis applies the repercussions of her conceptualization of leadership toward an understanding of the interaction between Black men and women within the realm of political activism.
Baker is treated as a primary subject in this thesis and is characterized as an ardent architect of social change. Chapters one through five reflect this concept in their respective titles: A Panoramic Shot, The Foundation, Construction Sites, The Frame, and Blueprint for the Future. They also serve to place her as a primary agent in political organizing by illustrating how her work was deeply rooted in the trenches of the community and how her philosophy literally built new organizations and reconstructed concepts of leadership.