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Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision

The guide provides information on the 2021 Book Club entitled "Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision" by Barbara Ransby.

Information on Barbara Ransby: Featured Speaker


Dr. Barbara Ransby is the John D. MacArthur Chair, and Distinguished Professor, in the Departments of Black Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She also directs the campus-wide Social Justice Initiative, a project that promotes connections between academics and community organizers doing work on social justice. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Michigan, where she was a Mellon Fellow.

Dr. Ransby is the author of two award-winning books: Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (2003); and Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson (2013). She is also the author of a third book published in August 2018 entitled: Making All Black Lives Matter: Re-imagining Freedom in the 21st Century. The Ella Baker book was the recipient of 8 national book awards and recognitions including the Liberty – Legacy award from the Organization of American Historians; the Joan Kelly prize from the American Historical Association; and the James A. Rawley Prize (also from the AHA). In 2018 the Chronicle of Higher Education acknowledged the Baker biography as “one of the most influential books of the last twenty years.” Her second biography, Eslanda, was the recipient of the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize for the best book in African American women’s history from the Association of Black Women Historians. In 2017 Dr. Ransby was honored as “one of the top 25 women in higher education,” by the publication, Diverse Issues in Higher Education. She is also a recipient of the 2018 Angela Y. Davis Prize from the American Studies Association for scholarship in service of the public good. In 2020 Dr. Ransby received two honors. She was elected as a fellow to the Society of American Historians and received one of the inaugural Freedom Scholar’s Award from the Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation for “social and economic justice scholarship.”

She is also editor in chief of Souls: a critical journal of Black politics, culture, and society, and is a member of the editorial working group of the London-based journal, Race and Class, and the Editorial Advisory Board of the “Justice, Politics and Power” book series at University of North Carolina Press. She served as President of the National Women’s Studies Association from 2016 – to 2018.

Dr. Ransby publishes regularly in popular venues, which include: DISSENT, In These Times, Colorlines, The Nation, the Boston Review, Truthout, and the New York Times.

Dr. Ransby is not only a historian and writer but also a longtime activist. She was deeply involved in the anti-Apartheid/ Free South Africa movement in the 1980s and later co-founded a number of organizations including The Ella-Baker Nelson Mandela Center, Ella’s Daughters, and African American Women in Defense of Ourselves. She is a founding member of the national organization Scholars for Social Justice and works closely with The Movement for Black Lives and the multi-racial coalition, The Rising Majority. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, and the grassroots Chicago-based, Equity and Transformation, (E.A.T.) a group that supports formerly incarcerated persons and those working in the informal economy.

Agenda for Book Club- Monday, March 29, 2021


March 29, 2021 – Introductory Session: Virtual Zoom/Blackboard Meeting 5:30-7pm CST

  1. Introductory Remarks and Announcements- Dr. Stella Smith, 2-3 min.
  2. Dr. Barbara Ransby, Honorary Keynote Speaker, “Listening to the Ancestors: Ella Baker's lessons for 21st Century Freedom Fighters” 20-30 min (Intro by Dr. Fred Bonner, II, Prairie View A&M University Whitlowe R. Green College of Education, Professor and Endowed Chair, 3-5 min
  3. Distribute discussion questions for small group discussion—Mr. Brian Hicks, Ms. Carrie Beyer, and Ms. Susan Lilly (Technical Coordinator)Texas Tech University 3 min.


  1. Small group discussion Mentoring Group Members 15-20 min.


  1. Large group discussion 10-15 min.
  2. Closing remarks/Acknowledgement of Partners and Sponsors, Volunteers- Dr. aretha marbley, Texas Tech University 5 min.
  3. Surveys- Ms. Tran Le, Zoom Coordinator, Texas Tech University 2 min.


Zoom Information for Session 4


Final Speaker: Barbara Ransby: Lecture Title: “Listening to the Ancestors: Ella Baker's Lessons for 21st Century Freedom Fighters" 

Zoom Directions


Thank you for attending this Book Read virtually. The conference will be hosted on the Zoom meetings platforms, with each link providing you the room for each event. Below you will find the steps to log onto the Zoom platform for the conference and the login information.


· Click on the corresponding link for each session. Each session has a different link that you will want to click on at each session's start.


· Passwords should not be required if you click on the link provided to you.



· Please make sure your mic is muted, and your camera is off at the beginning of the session. If not, the host will turn off the camera and the mic.


· Sessions will end on time. The Opening, Greetings, and Keynote session will be 40 minutes, the Small Group Discussion session will be 10-15 minutes, and approximately 10 minutes for the Questions and Answers and Closing session. Questions and answers will be housed in the chat function and filtered by the moderator.


· Speakers will join the session five minutes before the session begins to test the technology and presentations. Attendees will be let into the session at the scheduled start time.