Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Integrity and Perseverance

BOND: And in your own life when in-- is it '65?--your car is bombed, your home is dynamited? I mean, this has to be a challenge. This is a challenge to your leadership. These are people saying "this is serious business, we are going to do something, we can do something worse than this" -- if you could imagine anything worse. I mean, that's a real challenge to your leadership, and must have — how did it affect you?

CHAMBERS: Not, quite honestly, not very much. I wasn't deterred, and I expected from your experiences and the experiences of many other civil rights activists, I knew that there was always a danger that somebody would do something horrible. And so I didn't — that was a risk that took and decided to take and proceeded. I didn't really get that uptight about some of the activities. I did try to find out frequently who was doing what.

BOND: But then seven years later your father's auto shop and your own law office burned down. I mean, this had to be devastating for him and for you.

CHAMBERS: Well, it was devastating for him. But for me, again, it was the same feeling that these are things that one will likely experience in trying to effect change. And —

BOND: But he's an innocent in this regard — your father?

CHAMBERS: Yeah, he is innocent in the sense that he wasn't the lawyer that was doing all this. But he was the father and supporter of the effort underway. And I think that he anticipated that some of these things would occur. So he didn't stop working or try to encourage me to stop working. And it continued. The question that you pose, though, about leadership and following and developing a movement, even about Martin Luther King and the movement in the latter part of his life, I thought there were some efforts already underway that he joined.

BOND: Yes, indeed.

CHAMBERS: So it's a good question. But whatever I think that a good leader knows what particular movements are worth pursuing and how best to bring his or her people along to get them involved with the particular issue.