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Page A12-The Chronicle, Thuri
Ke^PS ^ * *
Br- M I
branded. Everything had to be
kept in school.
"There was a lot of emotional
pain," she remembered. "But I
know now that if you have an
ideal, you must have pain to
carry it through.-But I want to
emphasize, it was not just Gwen
Mrs. Coleman finished at
Reynolds in 1959 and earned her
degree in education in 1963 from
- what was then called WinstonSalem
Teachers College, now
Winston-Salem State University.
She left Winston-Salem in
1963. Her experiences here, even
. am?ng qwvy blacks who did not
or could not understand why she
entered Reynolds^ was a bitter
one. She has not discussed her exIMIIIIIIHimilllllllHttllllllllllllHIIIIIIIIIIIIinitUlllfllf
nf f a
lead. Together, they made
Ms. Ella Baker was another
guiding figure behind the civil
rights movement. Ms. Baker has
fought for black liberation
throughout her adult life.
The granddaughter of a proud,
rebellious slave minister, Ella
Baker was born in the South in
1903 and received her
undergraduate degree from Shaw
University in Raleigh, where she
was valedictorian of her class.
In 1927 Ms. Baker moved to
New York City, where she
became involved with numerous
organizations fighting for social
change. During 1941 and 1942
she served as the national field
secretary for the NAACP. In
1943 she became the director of
branches for NAACP. Between
1943 and 1955 Ms. Baker con.
tinued her work for social
When the Montgomery bus
boycott began in 1955, Ms.
Baker, along with A. Philip Randolph,
Bayard Rustin and
Stanley Levison, immediately
organized a Northern support
group that sent money and other
resources to Montgomery.
following the boycott, Ms.
Baker, Randolph, Levison and
Rustin contacted Dr. King and
urged him to establish a
southwide organization for racial
equality. In this regard Ms. Baker
became one of the founding
members of Dr. King's Southern
Christian Leadership Conference
As soon as the SCLC was
formed in ; : Baker moved
to Atlanta and became the
^associate director of the
Ms. Baker was the one who
established SCLC's central office
sday, February 6, 1986
r ... Wm' vl
^ mBBSL ; 1
rom Page A9
periences with any reporter
4* 11 dawned on m#? thflt fr?r m\r
.... ..WW -mr mm m mm w I VI 111^
hometown, what happened was
important/' she says. "If it is important
to them, then I realized
I'd better think about it. I want
them to know that I appreciate
them. They are beautiful."
Mrs. Coleman says she is now
studying for the ministry at the
Howard University School of
Divinity. She believes her experience
was part of God's plan.
"You think you have faith,
then you look back and see a lot
of God and faith in those
people," she said. "God was , .k
there walking beside me, through
those people. It was something
God wanted me to do, and he saw
in the late 1950s. She operated i
the mimeograph machines, wrote <
much of the early cor- 1
respondence, and performed the 1
countless administrative duties. ]
Ms. Baker was also a genius
when it came to organizing peo- <
pie and inspiring them to seek ,
change. As an SCLC official .
Baker organized the black masses i
throughout the South. She was j
especially effective at getting ;
women and young people involv- ]
ed in the movement. ?
Ms. Baker became a role model
for the women and young people
who joined the movement. 1
When the student sit-in pro- 1
tests spread across the South in
1960, Ms. Baker became a 1
guiding force behind them. It was !
she who organized the student i
meeting in 1960 from which the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating i
Committee (SNCC) was first con- i
ceived. This is why Ms. Baker is <
considered the mother of SNCC. ,
Ms. Baker, then, was a central
figure behind both Dr. King and ]
the black student movement. 1
Diane Nash-Bevel captured Ms. i
Baker's importance when she
said, "(She) was the pillar of
strength and good sense to lean
on. Ella came across as just being
such an honest, open, wise person
with unending resources." <
Septima Clark was born in
Charleston, S.C., on May 3, \
1898. Mrs. Clark wrote in her h
autobiography that from her ear- <
ly childhood she wanted to bt a 1
schoolteacher. After teaching in 1
Southern public schools for 40 j
years, she was fired because of 1
her membership in the NAACP. i
In 1936 Mrs. Clark took a job at i
the Highlander Folk School in ]
Monteagle, Tenn. t
Mrs. Clark was deeply con- 1
cerned that a large proportion of
' i > 11
? xwi-w 1/ piwyiouil low
participants. BEST I
the Women in NoniBB
program and recent
training sessions. P
from left, are carper
9 George Pass, carpei
I team of heating and
students inspect wii
I watchful eye of thei
by James Parker).
mc through it."
At 45, Coleman can now
reflect on her experience and
draw lessons from it.
"1 went back to the school
(Reynolds) for the first time this
summer. It has changed considerably.
1 did not realize how I
441 heard Bishop Tutu say the
other day that the reason he was
standing above others was
because he was standing on someone's
shoulders. Blacks must
remember from whence they
came. We are losing our identity.
We can't be so busy enjoying
where tWfcjfeinlftjwe've come thftt ?
we forget where we've been anid
where we still have to go. We
have to stay in tune with our
From Page A9
the black masses could not read
Dr write in the late 1950s. She
knew that Southern whites used
black illiteracy as an excuse to
prevent blacks from voting.
Besinninc in 1956. she
^ ^ -"I
ed an extremely successful
grassroots literacy program. She
explained that "in *56 and *57,
night after night, I sat down and
wrote out a citizenship education
program .which would help illiterates
toiearn to read and write
so they could register to vote."
Her approach was to teach
adults based on their own experiences.
She taught them how
to write their names in the family
Bible, while others learned to
write their sons in the military.
She taught people to write words
they had sung for years.
Sharecroppers were taught
mathematics by counting the
number of seeds needed for their
:rops. In a short time the masses
were learning to read and write,
rhis was astonishing because the
public schools had failed badly in
:heir efforts to teach black
Because of its success, the program
quickly spread throughout
the South. Local people set up
these schools in their own communities
with phenomenal success.
Once the adults learned to
read and write, they embarked on
a trip to City Hall, where they attempted
to register to vote.
By 1961 Dr. King had become
aware of the success of Mrs.
Clark VHteracy program . He per?
luaded her to move the program
to the SCLC. Through the SCLC
Mrs. Clark and her staff were
able to teach thousands. These
"citizenship schools,'* as they
*ere callcd, -served a5 a community
organizing base for Dr.
King and the movement. Many of
he students of these classes
became involved in sit-ins,
Please see page A15
> in Skilled Trades
sntly graduated 14
s an outgrowth of
ly initiated co-ed
ltry teacher Elder
ntry students and a
I air rAnHitl^ninM
ring under the
r instructor (photos
blackness. Black parents have to
teach their children what it was
like - teach them those thinas of
Mrs. Coleman, who is married
to Ronald J. Coleman and has
one daughter, 8-year-old Rondolyn,
and one son, 13-year-old
Dominique, says Martin Luther |
King is her hero. t
"He taught us that suffering is i
on all sides," she says. "You *
can't isolate black issues from |
human problems in general. '
Mankind is in this together.
"I just want the community to
know that 1,4? thank them," (B
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For an issue c
Black historical facts and c
To Come By
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*' c a
special four-part Black History
Month series on the economic"
development of Black America
brought to youljy "Tony
tackles the question: Why do
the bottom rung of the eco
i jj >
focuses on the financial consequences
Part III dramatically presents
philosophies of eminent historical
figures?and how their
ideas might be applied to
"From the Streets to the
Suites," a look at several possi*
blc solutions to the current
Find out how to stop paying I
and start playing smart?with
you^ money. Watch "Tony
Brown's astute analysis: The
Color of Freedom."
mm t/f t/ii t/n t/n
wu^*4 mn-NaM 1/11/11 ,/,# ,/n
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