Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Black Leadership: Engaging Issues of Race

BOND: In challenging the civil rights establishment, William Allen is quoted. He writes of a danger in continually thinking in terms of race or gender and writes, “until we learn once again to use the language of American freedom in an appropriate way that embraces us all, we’re going to continue to harm this country.” Now, is there a danger of divisiveness if we focus on black leadership?

BERRY: First of all, talking about race is not something that people who are visible minorities, as they call them in Canada — I sort of like that phrase— want to do. It is because we are the people who were ascribed and defined and confined and so we talk about our own condition and how we are the negative other in America and how we — so we talk about it not because we decided to talk about it. We talk about it because it’s the condition we were put in that we try to overcome and so American freedom has never existed in any pure form going back to the days of slavery until now and what it all is about is perfecting American freedom, making it, perfecting it, and so to talk about race doesn’t mean you’re denying American freedom. It means you’re trying to make it better.