Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership: Developing Future Leaders

BOND: Now, does today's society, so different from the world in which I grew up, you grew up, does it demand a different leader today? Do we need a different kind of leader today?

HEIGHT: I think you need a leader who is able to utilize all the different new media and things that are available. I think it requires an adaptation, but I don't think we will make it unless we have people who are well grounded, who have some vision of what the society could be and some real commitment to justice and to equality.

BOND: Is there some way that we, that American society, can nurture and create the leaders that we need?

HEIGHT: I think we have to. And I think we have to begin with our young people. I think we have to offer more opportunity for young people to be exposed to things that will challenge them and that will draw upon the wellspring of values that we know will be intrinsic and important for their development. I think we have no alternative. In my book I say, "I leave this for the -- I write it for the future generations, because I think they will need it."

BOND: What was that great saying that Ms. [Mary McLeod] Bethune used to say, "I leave you -- " How does that go?

HEIGHT: In her last will and testament, she said, "I leave you love. I leave you faith. I leave you hope. I leave you a respect for the use of power. I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. I leave you the responsibility to our young people." And I always am interested that she didn't say our responsibility for our young people. She said to our young people. And I always feel that our responsibly is to our young people, to help them understand not only who they are and what the struggle has been, but how they are, as she put it, they are the future. But their future doesn't begin later. Their future begins now. And I always like to say to young people, "You're not the leaders for tomorrow. You are leaders today, for today. You are youth leaders for today. And what you do as youth leaders will help prepare you to be leaders later in your life."

BOND: Dorothy Height, thank you so much for this.

HEIGHT: Thank you.