Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influence of Black Business

BOND: In the neighborhood around the University Center -- University Homes -- it's a mixture of residential, a couple of businesses, Yates and Milton's Drug Store there on the corner.

JORDAN: Two of 'em.

BOND: This is a part of a chain. So unusual for a black people to own a chain of these kinds of businesses. Did you draw any thoughts from that, from the little businesses, Yates and Milton's, the other things you saw?

JORDAN: It was a source of confidence that you could do business. There was a Young's barber shop. They did their business. There was the Butz grocery store, the Johnson grocery store. These were all black businesses serving the black community. And then when you got to go the Butler Street Y on the other side of town, you saw the Mutual Federal Savings & Loan, you saw the Citizen's Trust Bank. There was WRD, the first black radio station. There were these huge churches on Auburn Avenue -- Big Bethel, Wheat Street, and Ebenezer. And then there were the nightclubs. I mean, in the context of segregation, there was a prospering, and there was a self-contained confidence about education, preparation, community service. As a kid going to the Butler Street YMCA, we would see all of the talented tenth leaders -- the businessmen, the doctors and the lawyers, the social workers. The Butler Street Y was a gathering place. When I was growing up, the Butler Street Y, under the leadership of a man named Warren Cochrane had the only interracial forum in the south at that time. It was called the Hungry Club. And I knew about the Hungry Club as a kid. And as a kid, I grew up believing that one day I would speak at the Hungry Club because that's what the big guys did. And that's what I wanted to do. And I am so grateful for those institutions that my parents exposed me to and the individuals in those institutions. They were great role models for me.