Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Impact of Black Social Organizations

BOND: I'm skipping around a little bit here. In August of '92, you told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that you represent a new generation of leadership and in that, another interview after you'd moved to Columbus, he [the reporter] writes, "Sanford expresses distaste for some aspects of structured black society which revolves around clubs, lodges, sororities, dinner dances, and remnants of a simpler age." Is that a fair representation of your critique of certain aspects of black society?

BISHOP: At that point in my life, I guess so. It's interesting how one evolves. I have since that time grown to respect those traditional institutions and organizations such as the Masonic Lodges. I was initiated by some of the — my Boy Scout leaders early in my legal career [were] in the Masons. I was raised up to 32nd Degree and I recently was conferred the 33rd Degree, but I've developed over the years, I have matured to realize the wisdom of associating and affiliating with such organizations and realizing the historical place that they play and have played in our history and our culture and our success.

The fraternities and sororities, at some point they sometimes seem to be frivolous, but they also are service organizations and now with the right orientation, and as my father so very adequately convinced me, if the fraternity is not what you think it should be, then you should get in it and get other people of like mind to make it what you think it should be and, of course, that stuck with me and I think that all of these organizations have a place. Just this past Saturday I had the opportunity to speak by accident as a substitute speaker to the Metropolitan District of Columbia Chapter of the [Links], their annual Christmas dinner and I was to speak on objects -- on subjects that might be of interest with trends, but that was an opportunity for me to lift up to a very, very sophisticated audience the challenge that we face as individuals, as a country, as a people, in competing in the global community that we live in and how small the world has become, how flat the world has become through use of the Internet and what challenges that's going to bring to us and how our country is really going to be struggling to remain a super power unless we do some things a lot different.