Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Contributions as a Leader

BOND: Yes, it’s a — a frustrating part of the struggle. What do you see as your greatest contributions as an African American leader?

DAVIS: Well, I think that my greatest contribution probably was not my contribution. I mentioned before that the campaign that was organized in 1970 in the aftermath of my arrest that reached people all over the world is — stands as a remarkable testament to what is possible today. The more I think about that campaign, the more extraordinary it appears to me, even much more so than at the time I was in the — you know, right in the middle of it. So that, I would say, is my greatest contribution, my involvement in the production of a massive transnational global campaign that demonstrated that collective empowerment can work.

Then I would say that — well, I was listening to someone introduce me as I spoke at a class. And this professor said something that had never occurred to me, that every decade that I’ve actually managed to raise some new issues, issues of the relationship between gender and race and I can’t remember what — you’ll have to ask her. This was Claudrena Harold, exactly how she — she had a very neat way of talking about that and I suppose I would summarize that by saying that I feel most vital when I am most present and when I don’t depend on laurels of the past, when I am listening to and engaging with young people in the moment and attempting to contemporize my ideas and my quest and my aspirations.