Ella Josephine Baker was born in Virginia, and at the age of seven Ella Baker moved with her family to Littleton, South Carolina, where they settled on her grandparent's farmland her grandparents had worked as slaves. Ella Baker's early life was steeped in Southern black culture. Her most vivid childhood memories were of the strong traditions of self-help, mutual cooperation, and sharing of economic resources that encompassed her entire community. Because there was no local secondary school, in 1918, when Ella was fifteen years old, her parents sent her to Shaw boarding school in Raleigh, the high school academy of Shaw University. Ella excelled academically at Shaw, graduating as valedictorian of her college class from Shaw University in Raleigh in 1927.
After her graduation from Shaw University, Baker migrated to New York City on the eve of the Great Depression, determined to find an outlet for her intellectu...