Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Fostering Future Leadership

BOND: In the future, how can we be sure that we have effective leaders? Is there some way to foster leadership? There are schools that have sprung up, leadership schools. Is this something you can teach?

BERRY: I think you can teach what seems fair and what isn’t, right and wrong, but the more I think about it, part of it is some people have what it takes to be able to withstand what is necessary to be a leader and trying to make social change and other people don’t but there will be people because there always are. I don’t think they’ll come necessarily from a leadership school.

BOND: So are you saying you don’t have to grow them but they just grow?

BERRY: When you see them, like when Minerva [Hawkins] I guess when she saw me, she told me this when I became an adult, she already figured out that I had what it took. I didn’t know I had what it took, but she knew and so she did everything she could to make sure that I understood how to do things and then that I also knew what brickbats would come and all that. She just, you know, she did that her whole life and for me. So she nurtured me in a sense and she said, yeah, I was a diamond in the rough and she saw me and she knew, so when you see people who have what it takes, try to grow them, but if they don’t have what it takes, then it’s going to be kind of hard to, you know —

BOND: Do you think — it seems to me you’re saying such people will come.

BERRY: Oh, yes. They will. They always have.

BOND: Do they need nurturing? They need pushing?

BERRY: Oh, yes.

BOND: They may need developing, but they will come?

BERRY: And when you see them and they need it, do it.

BOND: All right. Mary Frances Berry, thank you for being with us.

BERRY: Thank you.