Ella Baker (1903–1986) grew up in Littleton, North Carolina, and was educated at Shaw University in Raleigh. During the 1930s she worked as a community organizer in New York. She joined the NAACP staff in 1940 as a field secretary and served as director of branches from 1943 to 1946. Baker traveled throughout the South, recruiting new members and registering voters. In 1957 she cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference after advising the Montgomery Improvement Association, which organized the bus boycott. As SCLC executive director, she organized the 1960 conference that created the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She remained a key advisor, helping SNCC organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged Mississippi’s all-white delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention.