Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Early Education in Birmingham

BOND: And it was evident to you at that age that the new school you’re in is so superior in many ways to the school you’d left behind, I’m guessing?

DAVIS: Oh, absolutely. Although I should say that I learned a lot in segregated schools in Birmingham. I learned things I would have never learned.

BOND: Like what?

DAVIS: Black history. I can remember from the time I was very young, first grade, celebrating black history, Negro History Week.

BOND: Negro History Week, that's right.

DAVIS: And using that time to think about the extent to which, you know, black people had made major contributions so that I think I would never have received.

BOND: And you wouldn’t have got that at Elisabeth Irwin?

DAVIS: Oh, absolutely not. Every time we sang the American National Anthem, right, we also sang the Negro National Anthem.

BOND: “Lift Every Voice.”

DAVIS: Exactly, so I think that my teachers in elementary school and high school gave us all a sense of pride and gave us the tools with which to resist the imposition of racial inferiority.