Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

About the Site

Welcome to the Explorations in Black Leadership website and video collection of leaders in the African American community.  We hope you enjoy the 51 interviews and many hours of recorded interviews conducted chiefly by Julian Bond, former national chairman of the NAACP and professor of history at the University of Virginia. 

These oral interviews reveal how leaders are nurtured, and how historical circumstances shape them.  They are stories of identity -- stories about the self, stories about the group, and stories about value and meaning.  They link the private and the public -- the personal and the professional.  You can listen to and learn from  51 American leaders from all walks of life -- law, education, religion,  public service, the arts, business. The leaders in this sample span the full twentieth century, reflecting economic, geographic, and age diversity.  Some experienced the indignities of segregation; others came of age after major legislation ended de jure discrimination.  

Each interviewee was asked a core set of questions with the responses categorized into one of three themes–Biographical Details of Leadership, Contemporary Lens on Black Leadership, and Historical Focus on Race.  Additional indexing has been thoughtfully applied accross all of the interviewees' responses to create links to short segments that focus on specific themes, topics, and events.

For educators interested in incorporating content from the site into their curricula, a set of Education Modules provides a guide for exploring themes using specific video segments as a basis for analyzing and responding to questions. By viewing the clips and completing the activities students will better understand what leadership is and how they can become leaders.

These rich and thoughtful interviews teach us how leadership emerges from historical struggle rooted in the hope of a better future. 

By concentrating on leadership in equal measure to the remembered past of peoples' lives, the conversations implicitly connect the ways in which historical circumstances create the conditions for the future.

Requests for additional information about the site should be be directed to Profesor Phyllis Leffler at the University of Virginia.