Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leaders Can Be Made

BOND: This is the last question and in some ways, I think the most difficult. How can we foster or create effective leaders for the future?

CONYERS: Well, first of all, I believe leaders are not born, that they can be made. So that I think this whole inquiry into leadership is very valid and very appropriate. Matter of fact, it's the first study of its kind that I know about, certainly the first that I've participated it, so I congratulate you and your co-chairman and the University itself for making this inquiry. But leadership, like public speaking, like athletic prowess, isn't something that you either have or you haven't. You may not have as much as you want, but you certainly -- it certainly is a developable skill. And I think that this kind of inquiry will cause lots of people, and hopefully young people, to look into themselves and say, "Oh, I didn't know all this about Julian Bond. I didn't know all of this about Cornel West. I didn't realize that some of these people didn't -- that Vernon Jordan didn't always have it made." And I think the course of our lives, the struggles that we personally had to undergo, can become the opportunities that opened up for me. People can see. You can look into that and see that some of these came to me and I was able to take advantage of them. An opportunity can come and hit you in the face, and you get up and walk by it. And so I think that leadership can be, and still can be inspired and can be developed, and I hope that that's what this series is doing.

BOND: I hope so. Thank you, Congressman Conyers, for being with us. We appreciate it. It's a pleasure.

CONYERS: My honor to be with you, Julian.

BOND: Thank you.