Elaine Baker

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Elaine Baker grew up in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Founded in 1887 by former slaves, Mound Bayou is the oldest self-governing all-black municipality in the United States. Elaine grew up in an era of segregation, with “white only” and “black only” signs in neighboring communities, though she didn’t experience day-to-day racism in Mound Bayou. She learned that her value and worth were not determined by others. As a young girl, she picked cotton for 2.5 cents a pound and went on to get her PhD in sociology from the University of Georgia.

“You grew up with a sense of value in yourself that you weren’t any better than anybody else but nobody else was any better than you.”

I have come to appreciate demonic forces—jealousy, envy, greed. Those forces foster enmity. For me, there are positive forces and there are negative forces. One has to develop a discerning spirit to be able to know when they are rising up in you and where they’re coming from. God has enough for everybody, but everybody doesn’t get the same thing.

I think it’s important that you revisit: What are your core values? What are your core principles that don’t change? Love for one another, helping your neighbor out, pride in accomplishments and achievements. The world does change, and I’m glad about a lot of those changes.

A song from Sunday worship at Elaine’s Mount Olive M.B. Church

Scenes from rural Mississippi

Discussion Questions

  • How would you summarize the community you grew up in or the community you live in now? What are some of the most important characteristics of that place?
  • How does faith fit into your understanding of peace?
  • What positive forces influence your life regularly? What negative forces?
  • What are your core values? What are your core principles that don’t change? What are values you’ve held that have changed?
  • When have you combined your unique strengths with someone else’s to make something happen?

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