Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Contemporary Crisis: Lack of a Civil Rights Movement

BOND: Yes. In a book called Race Matters, Cornel [West] writes about a crisis of leadership and he says, “it’s a symptom of black distance from a vibrant tradition of resistance, from a vital community bonded by ethical ideals and from a credible sense of political struggle.” Do you see this crisis in black leadership today?

BERRY: Right. What’s the major problem, in my opinion, that we have in opening up the windows of opportunity wide again, which is my agenda, is that we don’t have a civil rights movement. We have a lot of people who work on civil rights and who try to do the right thing and are supportive but many people don’t pay any attention unless something happens to them or some, you know, highly publicized thing, somebody made a comment or something like that happens, but on a day-to-day basis, we don’t have a movement. People who got through the window of opportunity are moving on. Other people don’t want to think about these issues so they say, well, you know, in time, they will disappear. So the absence of a movement cripples folks who try to do the work that needs to be done. We don’t have that sense of a movement now.