Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker

Directed by Joanne Grant

48 minutes / Color
Release: 1981
Copyright: 1981

FUNDI: THE STORY OF ELLA BAKER reveals the instrumental role that Ella Baker, a friend and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr., played in shaping the American civil rights movement. The dynamic activist was affectionately known as the Fundi, a Swahili word for a person who passes skills from one generation to another.

By looking at the 1960s from the perspective of Baker, the "godmother of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee," FUNDI adds an essential understanding of the U.S. civil rights movement.

This film is also available in a longer 63-minute version that is available on DVD as well as for educational streaming with Docuseek.

"FUNDI does exactly what Ella Baker does: it gives us the courage to act on our own—and to affect the future." —Gloria Steinem

"FUNDI, the powerful film account of Ella Baker's contributions, can enrich us immeasurably, adding depth and texture to our understanding of an important part of our past, inspiring us with examples of lives lived fully and purposefully."
—Harvard Educational Review

"FUNDI fills a gap for those who know little of the history of the black struggle [and] is a compelling portrait of an extraordinary woman who has devoted her life to struggle and to the people who take part in it." —Harry Belafonte

"FUNDI restores Ella Baker, the 'godmother of the SNCC,' to her place in the history of the civil rights movement. Rrecisely and elegantly executed... there's no pomposity, no false reverence - at least none that Baker herself can't cut right through." —Pat Aufderheide, Ph.D.

Ways to Watch

Available online from:

Colleges, Universities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, and Corporations

Purchase DVD for $348.00


A film by Joanne Grant
Narrated by Harry Belafonte

Select Accolades

  • Film of the Year, 1981 London Film Festival
  • Best of Category, 1981 San Francisco Film Festival
  • First Prize Winner, 1981 Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame
  • 1981 CINE Golden Eagle Winner
  • 2005 National Women's Studies Association Film Festival
  • 2020 African Diaspora International Film Festival


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