Friday, March 25, 2022

Repaired Highway Marker Honoring Civil Rights Leader Ella Baker to be Reinstalled

Mar 25, 2022

A repaired historical highway marker recognizing a North Carolina civil rights leader soon will be reinstalled at its original location.

Originally dedicated in 2011, the marker honors civil rights leader Ella Baker. It was damaged in 2019 and placed in storage.

A ceremony unveiling the repaired marker will take place April 8 at 11 a.m. in Littleton, her childhood home. The marker is being returned to its location on Main Street (U.S. 158) near East End Avenue.

Baker, known as “the mother of the civil rights movement,” devoted her life to civil rights work by organizing the meeting in April 1960 to establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at her alma mater, Shaw University.

Born Dec. 13, 1903, in Norfolk, Va., she moved with her family in 1910 to Elam, N.C. in Warren County and soon after settled in Littleton. She attended St. Anna’s, a local Episcopal school before graduating from Shaw in 1927.

Baker moved to New York and in 1930 joined the Young Negroes Cooperative League, with an aim to develop black economic power through collective planning. In 1940 she began work for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as field secretary, and rose to director of branches, 1943-1946.

In 1957 Baker joined with Martin Luther King Jr. and others — she was the only woman present — to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Her subsequent work toward starting the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was inspired by the Greensboro sit-ins, beginning Feb. 1, 1960, and the regionwide movement that followed. Baker mentored the leaders of SNCC, among them Marion Barry, Julian Bond, and John Lewis, as they separated from the SCLC.

Baker died Dec. 13, 1986 in Queens, N.Y., where she was buried. The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, Calif. honors her memory and legacy.

The Ella Baker marker was repaired with money from the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker endowment fund. The fund accepted donations from people and organizations across the state and nation who wanted to see the Baker marker back in place.

For more information, email Ansley Wegner at

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, three science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 41 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the N.C. Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, and the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please visit

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