Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Legacy of Brown

BOND: Yeah. Now looking back at it, from almost 50 years after '54, what do you think now?

BARAKA: Well, I think what I didn't understand was what I tried to lay out last night in the speech, the whole question of Sisyphus, that, yeah, you're going to make a step forward or like Lenin said, "Two steps forward," then you're gonna take a step backward, too. So I think that's what has been made clear to me, that it is a thermidor, a process. After each advance there's a kind of retreat or a kind of push back that then for the next generation means they have to take another step and go through the same thing. I knew that we were going to -- that we were going to press forward. I mean, I never doubted that, you know.

BOND: Can you say very quickly how the Brown decision particularly has affected you particularly? Has it had an effect on you?

BARAKA: Well, it's made me know, first of all, as I said before, it's made me understand that the struggle is practical -- practicable and practical -- and that it will give, you know, results. There will be results. On the other hand, it's made me understand very clearly how there's always resistance. And that resistance is not only direct, but there are all kinds of devious ways that, you know -- I mean, I've never seen so many scams, you know, from Americans and from this state itself. But I've never seen so many scams as when they talk about democracy. The minute they talk about democracy, they're also busy with these kind of lugubrious scams that are going to come up and of all kinds of ways that they're going to try to deceive, at the same time talking, you know, mucho democracy.And that's what -- that's what happens. I mean, the present resident of the White House is -- I mean, he's another example of that. But, you know, they -- they -- I grew up seeing them all have done that. The minute they come to the question of democracy, you're going to hear double talk, you know. And I've learned that earliest with Brown v. The Board of Education. But then as it went on -- as the civil rights movement deepened and, you know, we got involved in some -- then certainly we learned all over the continent the duplicity and deviousness of folk -- even the folks who were talking who supposedly were on our side.You know, that there was always so much scam in it. You know, you always had to sort it out. Some of which had been socialized in them, you know, from years of being socialized by the essentially racist society.

BOND: Well, when you first become aware that these scams are going to be run, what -- how do you feel? As you describe it, the Brown decision comes down, you're optimistic change can be made, and then these scams occur. What does that say to you?

BARAKA: Well, it says to me that you have to be, you know, as analytical. You know what I mean. In other words, you have to be slick as the slick. You have to see what is actually going on, you know what I mean.

BOND: Do you feel as if you've been taken for granted or taken in some way you've been tricked?

BARAKA: Not tricked. I think -- I thought that I had been -- that they assumed that I could be tricked. See? That's what I always thought.

BOND: Yeah.

BARAKA: It's like my Mama always said, "You know, they assume that you're slower than you are." You understand? So the question is, wait a minute, you say, "Oh, yeah. I can see that. I see what's happening." You know what I mean. And it just taught me that one must always be very precise in evaluating what is going on -- no matter what is being said, you know. But I maintain that optimism even today. But it's just that I realize that there are -- not only deviousness, but actual danger, and power, that seeks to prevent any real kind of change.