Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Lifetime of Role Models: MLK and Nelson Mandela

BOND: Now, people talk about making leaders in three separate ways: first, great people cause great events or movements make leaders or the confluence of unpredictable events creates leaders who are appropriate for the times. Does one of these fit you?

BISHOP: I don't know. I probably think that the events and circumstances, the influences on my life, have shaped and molded me so that when situations arose where I happened to be present and a part of, I could utilize those skills and those abilities, those experiences to make a difference and having the orientation that I got through the various experiences in my life probably motivated me to step forward to try to make a difference, you know, whether it was the Boy Scouts or Sunday School, the Order of the Arrow. I'm there trying to make a difference and Dr. King sort of put that nail in my head pretty strongly.

I have to let you know that it was later in life, though, that I developed another hero. I'd heard of him during the movement days, never knew who he was, but it was Nelson Mandela, and truly Nelson Mandela has almost eclipsed Dr. King in terms of my respect and admiration for a leader. He's indeed a tremendous personality, and I'm fortunate to have read of his life and to have met him and to really have studied the way that he was able to deal with the circumstances with which he was faced, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, equal to that of Dr. King.