Ella Baker (1903–1986) was an influential African American civil rights and human rights activist. For five decades she worked behind the scenes with people in vulnerable communities to catalyze social justice leadership. Her steadfast belief in the power of ordinary people to create change continues to inspire social justice activists around the world.
This book describes a case study that translates Ella Baker’s community engagement philosophy into a “catalytic leadership praxis” that others can adapt for their work. Catalytic leadership is a concrete set of communication practices for social justice leadership produced in equitable partnership with, instead of on, communities. The case centers the voices of African American teen girls who were living in a segregated neighborhood of an affluent college town and became part of a small collective of college students, parents, university faculty, and community activists learning leadership in the spirit of Ella Baker.