Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership Values: Grounded in History and Sacrifice

BOND: Let me read you something about making of leaders. And you are a leader. And have demonstrated this leadership in all your public career, and I dare say, even in your college and high school days. You get to be a leader one of three ways: Great people cause great events. That's one way. Movements make leaders. That's another way. And the confluence of events creates leaders appropriate for our times. Where do you fit?

COLE: I refuse --

BOND: Don't be modest, don't be modest.

COLE: -- the American way of "Choose one of the above." I can give you examples of each. Easily I can give you examples of each. And what I think we don't yet understand is how to socially reproduce each of those possibilities.

BOND: Yes.

COLE: But I'm not prepared to choose among the three.

BOND: Now looking back over these years, are there times -- there must have been times when you said, "Gee, what is this all about? I can't keep doing this. I need to either do something else, or certainly I need to stop doing this." Wherever it was you were in your career -- what kept you at it? What kept you going when you were tempted, I'm guessing, like many people are, to just throw up your hands and say "To hell with this"?

COLE: Run off to a nice island somewhere --

BOND: Which you might have done --

COLE: Haunted. I would have been haunted and I knew it and it wasn't worth it. Haunted by -- and this is very difficult for me because it comes out so rhetorical -- but really haunted by what other folk had done which seemed so proportionately more engaged, more involved, with more sacrifice, with more human harm to them, than anything that I'd ever done. I'm not a historian. But I will tell you, Julian Bond, keeping grounded in history will keep you on a decent path. Because it will never allow you to isolate yourself from what already has taken place. So there was just no choice. It wasn't worth it to be haunted by all them race women and race men who had done so much more than I could ever conceive of.