Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Reflections on Brown

BOND: So you enter Oberlin at a time when Brown v. Board is being announced, the first Brown decision. What do you remember about it? Hearing about it? Talking about it? What do you remember about it?

COLE: I remember just extraordinary jubilation. I remember, I remember folk thinking that this was a victory of unusual consequences. And for those of us like myself who had gone through segregated schools, I think at that moment I really wasn't in the position to think a lot about all of the values that I had been taught of the lessons I had learned in the colored schools. I think that I really, I think I really fell for it. I think that I thought that at that moment, like many, many others, that this was the great victory that would lead to enormous progress.

BOND: And did you think that it would be a quick victory? That segregation would just crumble over and fall?

COLE: I didn't think that it would just die quickly, but I sure didn't think that it would go on and on and on. And that the reality of schools today would be that they are still profoundly segregated.

BOND: Some of them even more so.

COLE: Even more so. Without the advantages, by the way, that we spoke of for the earlier years.

BOND: Yes, and as you said a moment ago the great dilemma is how do you get the opportunity and retain the advantage? But I don't know if we can even begin to talk about that.