Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership: Developing Future Leadership

BOND: In the future -- and of course none of us knows what that's going to be -- what kind of leadership is going to be demanded that perhaps we don't have now? Are there going to be new demands on leadership figures and leadership figures, you're talking about an enormous range of people. What are the new demands going to be?

FRANKLIN: Well, I can't ignore the fact that one-third -- roughly one-third, according to researchers at Howard University -- of the African-American community continues to live in a sort of sinking, multi-generational poverty, poorly educated. Just significant personal crisis, substance addictions. On and on, kind of violence in neighborhoods. Somehow, before we can really celebrate these African Americans sort of joining the American dream, we've still got to reckon with that challenge to us, because they're our family. They're our village. And I think, you know, Dr. West is keenly sensitive to those two-thirds of African Americans who are doing well, who are making it, and who forget about the one-third.

But most leaders haven't forgotten. Most of us are connected in various ways. Most of us are serving on a day-by-day, week-by-week fashion to somehow create opportunities for less advantaged citizens. And so I think the new leadership perhaps is going to have to be even more visible in modeling the sense of connectedness to the have nots. To demonstrable programs that enable people to move from dependence, from welfare, substance addictions, etc., from dependence to self-sufficiency. And leadership that is wise about that process, about the transitioning from dependence to self-sufficiency is going to be important. So it's not just leaders who sketch the big vision which we've had a lot of, or leaders who just serve particular constituencies. But leaders who are somehow helping to kind of really transform existence for a large number of people, who are just desperately looking for hope.

BOND: What can we do to make sure we have all kinds of leaders, the big picture people, the specific constituency people, the people with the vision for moving from dependence? How can we guarantee, if we can, that we have a ready supply of efficient, hard-working, dependable leadership figures emerging in our community?

FRANKLIN: Well, I think there's certainly a role for educational institutions to play in trying to encourage students to claim their leadership, claim their mission in life in terms of providing direction and inspiration and hope and practical examples for self-actualizing their lives. And so I think we need more people to understand that as they do so, they are -- that's a form of leadership. Not all leaders are the big picture behind the microphone and in the public eye. But there are grassroots leaders, there are bureaucratic leaders who work in organizations to provide guidance and direction, who speak truth to power, who reinterpret the mission of the corporation or the company to ensure that it's serving the common good. I think that's the kind of leadership I hope we will nurture in a variety of ways, in the arts and journalism, in business, in medicine and in the sciences and certainly in politics and religion. People who understand the dynamics of the human spirit and its quest for meaning and purpose. And people who understand the fragility of community and how we need to knit and work on community building.

So it's wisdom about the human soul and about the human community building and then the larger agenda of crossing boundaries and negotiating difference and otherness. And I think if we have leaders that have wisdom about those three agendas -- the soul, the community and difference -- we're going to be well-served.

BOND: On that note, thank you, Dr. Franklin, for being with us. This has been great.

FRANKLIN: Thanks very much. Thanks for the opportunity.

BOND: Thank you.