This Day in Black History: March 5, 1945

Lena Baker, an African-American mother of three, was electrocuted in a Georgia prison on March 5, 1945.

(Photo: AP Photo/Georgia Department of Corrections, File)

Lena Baker was an African-American maid who was executed in a Georgia state prison for killing her employer, Ernest Knight. Baker testified at her trial that Knight had imprisoned her, threatening to shoot her if she attempted to escape. She took his gun and shot him. In doing so, she became the only woman who was executed by electrocution in the state of Georgia. African-Americans were not allowed to serve on juries and she was found guilty. After filing an appeal in the case, her court-appointed counsel dropped Baker, a mother of three, as a client. On entering the execution chamber, Baker spoke from the electric chair, saying: “What I done, I did in self-defense, or I would have been killed myself.”

In 2005, 60 years after her execution, Baker was granted a full and unconditional pardon by the state of Georgia. In 2008, a movie, The Lena Baker Story, was made about her life.

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