Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

The Weight of History and Segregation

BOND: How did you balance the feeling that I have to do better because these white kids don't think that I can, and the feeling that I have to do better because I just want to do better? How do you balance those?

HALL: I must say, I mostly wanted to do better because I wanted to make my parents proud. That's mostly why I wanted to do better. I didn't really feel, you know, this huge desire to just—it wasn't competition to make other people feel bad about themselves. I had this intense drive because I wanted to make my family proud because I knew that they grew up in the era where they lived in segregation. You know -- like my mom couldn't go to the zoo on only but one day of the week because the Memphis City Zoo would only allow colored folk to come in on Tuesdays. You know, that's the reality that she lived in, and so here I was given this opportunity to be sitting right beside a white child and learning in a way that she couldn't have even dreamed of, and that to me, is what drove me. It's like look how far my parents have come, you know, having saved up money to buy a house in order to move us out here, in order so that we could have a wonderful education. They made so many sacrifices so, for me, you know, it was always about moving my family forward.