Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership: Cutting to the Heart of the Problem

BOND: Do other people look at you and give you legitimacy as a leader or even for yourself, is this because of your ability to persuade people to follow your vision or in your ability to articulate the agenda of a larger movement?

BERRY: I think it’s my —from what people have told me, it’s my ability to put my finger on, as someone told me, precisely what is wrong and precisely what needs to be done and to say what should be done about it, whether anybody does it or not and my willingness to do that without worrying about who will agree or who will disagree and to find ways that the agenda can be implemented and that I always — and that I’m always eager to help and eager to do something so people seem to think that I have an ability to get, as someone put it, to cut right to the heart of whatever the issue or the problem is.

BOND: I remember when you were in a dispute at the Civil Rights Commission and a newspaper account instructed me that you were wrong, the President was right, and then I read your description and it instantly reversed my idea of what was at issue there and I always admired you for that because you reversed my reality or you showed me a true reality instead of the false reality I’d been led to believe.

BERRY: Oh, my goodness. Well, maybe that’s what people mean then.

BOND: I think so. I think so.