Ransby, Barbara 1957-

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RANSBY, Barbara 1957-


Born May 12, 1957, in Detroit, MI; married. Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1984; University of Michigan, M.A., 1987, Ph.D., 1996.


Office—Department of History, 913 University Hall, 601 South Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7109. E-mail—[email protected].


Educator and historian. DePaul University, Chicago, IL, instructor, 1992-95, director of Center for African-American Research and assistant professor of history, 1995-96; University of Illinois, Chicago, assistant professor, 1996-2002, associate professor of African-American studies and history, 2002—. Member of advisory board, Ella Baker-Nelson Mandela Center for Anti-Racist Education.


Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, Association of Black Women Historians, Organization of American Historians, Clergy and Laity Concerned, Chicago Coalition in Solidarity with Southern Africa.


Mellon fellowship in the humanities, 1984-86; faculty research award, DePaul University School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1993; University of Illinois at Chicago, Office of Social Science Research grant, 1996, and Race and Comparative Public Policy Institute fellowship, 1997; Rockefeller Foundation community-building grant, 1998; Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy fellow, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1998-99; Postdoctoral Ford Foundation fellow, 1999-2000.


Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radial Democratic Vision, University of North Carolina Pres (Chapel Hill, NC), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Emerge, Chicago Tribune, Buffalo News, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Evening Sun, Crossroads, USA Today, New York Newsday, Atlanta Journal andConstitution, Denver Post, New Directions for Women, and Southern Exposure. Member of editorial board, Journal of Race and Class.


Barbara Ransby is associate professor of African-American studies and history at the University of Illinois in Chicago. In addition to contributing articles and commentaries to various publications, lecturing in her area of expertise, and working as an active member of several organization, Ransby has also authored Ella Baker and the Black Democratic Vision. In what critics have praised as a well-researched biography, Ransby chronicles the long and successful political career of civil rights activist Ella Jo Baker, imbuing her work with her own admiration for Baker's life work.

After graduating from Shaw University in 1927 and moving to Harlem, New York, grassroots organizer Baker (1903-1986) dedicated her life to civil rights. Ransby chronicles Baker's impressive journey, noting that while traveling throughout the world for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Baker worked to save the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from becoming absorbed by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She also became a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where she encouraged followers to become self-reliant and seek guidance independently within themselves. Affiliated with the NAACP beginning in the 1940s, she worked with co-founders W. E. B. Du Bois and Walter White, but resigned due to her disapproval of their leadership. Prior to her resignation Baker attained the positions of field secretary, and director of branches, in the latter post improving the organization's structure. Baker eventually went on to later work for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and challenged the NAACP's treatment of women leaders.

Ransby follows Baker's career into the 1950s and her involvement in New York City politics and into the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and 1970s. "Ransby's is a remarkable biography worthy of her remarkable subject," maintained Library Journal contributor Thomas J. Davis, adding that Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement is "Essential for all biography, civil rights, community organizing, feminism, and twentieth-century U.S. or black history collections." Noting Ransby's admiration for her subject, Shatema Threadcraft commented on the appropriate match of biographer with subject in Africana.com: "it takes an activist to accurately capture Baker's life," Threadcraft maintained, citing Ransby's anti-apartheid activism while a student, and citing Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement "an almost perfect document" on one of the major black activists of the civil rights era.



Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Thomas J. Davis, review of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, p. 91.


Africana.com,http://www.africana.com/ (July 22, 2003), Shatema Threadcraft, review of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement.

Charleston Post and Courier Online,http://www.charleston.net/ (June 29, 2003), Libby Wallace, review of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement.

University of Illinois at Chicago Web site,http://www.uic.edu/ (April 17, 2004), "Barbara Ransby."*