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Biographical Details of Leadership
Contemporary Lens on Black Leadership
Historical Focus on Race
Education Exposures: George School, Morehouse College
LEFFLER: Okay. So then we'll go back to 1957, and you enter Morehouse, and probably at Morehouse you're introduced to a -- you say it's the first all-black educational experience you had, and no doubt you would have been introduced to a broader cross-spectrum of people -- people who perhaps came from much poorer backgrounds than your own?
BOND: Um, yes and no. Having gone to school at Lincoln Village there were children whose parents were farm workers and children whose parents were university professors. So -- and this is true about white and black kids. So there was an economic mix in these public schools in this little town. But at George School almost all the children were from the upper middle class and some of the children of people of great wealth, enormous wealth, very, very rich people and celebrated people. The movie critic of the New York Times, Bosley Crowthers' son was a classmate of mine. Heller Halliday, whose mother was Mary Martin. Remember Mary Martin?
LEFFLER: Oh, yes.
BOND: I went to school with her. Danny Selznick whose father was David O. Selznick and whose mother was Jennifer Jones, second marriage. They were classmates. So, I had this array of upper middle class and upper class, economically speaking, people I went to high school with. When I went to college the mix was more both geographic and economic because I'm going to college with boys in this all-male school from Detroit, from Chicago, from New York, from all over the country and from the small-town South. Many of the boys from the small-town South weren't just from poor backgrounds, they were smarter than I was, and that was an adjustment because they went to awful schools. They had been admitted to Morehouse as high school juniors -- Morehouse took you early if you were smart enough. So I'm going to school with kids who didn't have the same educational background I did -- I had a superior educational high school background -- who had an inferior background but who had triumphed above it and who were strivers and strugglers and were whipping past me like nobody's business. That was a shock. That was a big shock.
LEFFLER: What did you learn from your Morehouse years? What would you say the primary influences from those times were?
BOND: Um, a combination of a couple of professors who didn't influence me so much in the subjects they taught but in the personalities they had. The guy who taught me math was Professor Dansby. He had a master's degree, one of the rare Morehouse student teachers without a doctorate. Had a master's from Chicago and who spoke in near-broken English but who taught me math better than anybody had ever taught me math. For the first time in my life I understood it. He made it clear to me. He was a consultant at what was then Cape Canaveral. He used to say to us, he'd say, "Boys, I won't tell you I'm important." He said, "But you notice they don't shoot off one of those rockets until I go down there. So -- and it was true. He would go down there and do something -- I don't know what -- and they'd shoot off a rocket. He just impressed me that he would be, on the surface, an unlettered person. But in reality a man of enormous mathematical competence and the ability to communicate what had been a foreign subject to me all through high school. I just -- I never got it until I went to college and Claude Dansby taught me math. Another guy, Gladstone Chandler -- what a name! He was an English professor and he taught a speech class. I took a speech class from him. I never thought I'd make speeches. I mean, who thinks? But we had to give speeches in class, and I learned how to make a speech, and I'm forever grateful to him.
LEFFLER: I'd say you've given a few since that time.
BOND: Yes. I've give many since then and I got an understanding of what this is about. The idea at Morehouse is that every educated man will at sometime have to speak to an audience. So we're going to teach you how to do it. There were others. But those two particularly had a big influence on me.