Neither Bedecked Nor Bebosomed: Lucy Mason, Ella Baker and Women’s Leadership and Organizing Strategies in the Struggle for Freedom

Posted on May 12, 2015 by PLT Staff

Paper presented by Susan Glisson at the third meeting of the Lived Theology and Race Workgroup in San Francisco, California. Americans believe in the savior myth, or the belief that social change cannot happen without heroes and leaders. Glisson argues the huge social change brought about by the civil rights movement rested on the invisible foundation of networking and strategy created by everyday activists. She discusses the strategies of Lucy Mason and Ella Baker, two women whose leadership styles in the civil rights movement did not conform to the masculinized paradigm of leadership but who created a leadership that was non-charismatic, cooperative, collective and nurturing.

Excerpt: “[Lucy Mason and Ella Baker] redefined success as the development of healthy human relationships, rather than numbers of votes received or funds raised or legislation passed; in short, they redefined freedom. And they proved that their non-traditional organizing strategies were appropriate, indeed necessary, tools for conducting a social movement.”

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