Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Race & Gender

BOND: Do you see your life as having been centered on advancing race issues, advancing larger societal issues, or do you see them as the same?

HEIGHT: I see them as the same, because I think that as I advance the racial issue, I advance the society. I think the society now lags behind, and that as I advance racial issues and women's issues, when I look around the world today and realize how in the last twenty years women have come to a new day, I realize that there is -- and even in our country -- I realize that there is no way to advance the black family without advancing women. There's no way to advance the society -- truly advance -- without dealing with the issues of race. I think race is so dominant in our society, and racism is so deeply rooted, that it's almost inherent that we have to work on the racial issue to bring the society to better level.

BOND: You know, there are many people who would hear you say that and say, "You're living in the past. Race was a big issue in the 1960s. It's not an issue at all now." What do you say to those people?

HEIGHT: I would say to them go back and look at your history, what you now have. You have the legal base, you have policy in a broad sense, but you've only just begun. We have the laws and lack the enforcement. We have the opening, but we lack the economic strength. If you followed it all the way through, that we have not had the totality of what I think we thought we were working for.