Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Ida B. Wells-Barnett as Role-Model

BOND: Now, you look back at leadership figures in black America over time, Dr. King, Marcus Garvey, Dr. Du Bois, a long, long list of people, and often they have a distinct vision, they have a distinct style, something peculiar to them. Is there any one style that you historically have thought of as emulating, as imitating this is the way he or she behaved and this is the way I'm going to behave and comport myself?

HALL: Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

BOND: Ah, because she's from Memphis?

HALL: No, no. She's actually from Holly Springs, Mississippi, but she's a historical hero to me for so many reasons and mostly because she used the power of the pen. And as a writer, as an artist, as a person who is always deconstructing race and class through words, I must say that she is the one person that I truly, truly look up to. I've tried to read everything that she's ever written just because she was so blunt. She used—like the pen was definitely a sword for her. She uncovered very inconvenient truths for our society and I think she was a remarkable human being and definitely a woman who was way, way, way, way ahead of her time. Like, she helped to found the NAACP as well along with with her cohorts at the time and we kind of don't know that. We don't know her history and I think it may be because she's a woman. Most times our sense of our -- what we think of as black leadership tends to have a male face, you know, the Martin Luther King Jr., and the Jesse Jackson, and then the Al Sharpton, but there are a lot of black women who really pushed this society forward.

BOND: I think there's a new biography of her that just came out—

HALL: Mmhm, by Paula Giddings.

BOND: Right, by Paula Giddings, right.