Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

The Black Church

LEFFLER: So many African-American leaders have come out of a religious background. Been grounded in being a member of some black church or some church. It's been so fundamental in so many ways to the civil rights movement. Has that been a problem for you?

BOND: I don't think so. Now I am not religious in any regard. I've never attended church except when I was very young. My parents took me. I'm just not a religious person at all. I imagine there are people who are saying "He's not a Christian," or "He doesn't go to church or..." And every now and then people will say "What church do you belong to?" I say "I don't belong to any." They're sort of taken aback because it's expected that you do. At the recent NAACP convention almost everybody who stood up prefaced their remarks by saying "First giving honor to God," and I never say that. It's not a part of me. I think for some people that's something lacking in me, but it's perfectly fine with me and I'm going to keep on doing it.

LEFFLER: Is this call and response, that you're talking about is such a traditional religious...religiously-based…

BOND: It's both religiously based and independent of religious. It's a rhetorical style and when you get it going it's great.