Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Nostalgia for the Segregation Era

BOND: At the same time, there's a sentiment in black America that says the losses of black teachers, the losses of black businesses, have been too great. That this was a terrible, terrible mistake -- that it never should have happened.

HILL: They don't know economics and they don't know how to add. There's no loss in anything. In 1950, the gross product in the Negro community was about $50 million dollars. Today, the gross product is somewhere in the neighborhood of half-a-billion dollars. I mean, we have improved, and it's nonsense to say that we haven't improved. What the problem is -- the improvement has been both in white and Negroes, among upper-class people, and not among the masses, and that's due to several things. One, the system has some defects, economic system has defects, educational system has many defects.

They talk about improving education, but when they talk about improving education, what are they talking about? They talk about vouchers and charter schools, instead of saying, "Public schools -- put some more money in them." They let the schools run down. Build up the schools, have a decent environment. If the teachers aren't capable, get new teachers. And require them to measure up. They put in teachers, plenty of teachers that are capable of doing what they're supposed to be teaching, not -- see, remember, when I came along there was -- teaching was one of the highest things negroes could do. Now, qualified people can get jobs doing other things, in integrated situations. They don't have to stay in that. And so consequently, they follow the economic plan, and look out for themselves. All these kinds of things have effect. Why couldn't they think in terms of putting in tutors in the schools? Another things that they've done -- I used to complain about it for years --

BOND: A moment ago – well go ahead.

HILL: They are just giving children, little active children, giving them all this – what is that daggone -- Remlin or something.

BOND: Oh, Ritalin. Ritalin, drugs.

HILL: Ritalin, yeah. Instead of finding out what is wrong with the children and giving them things. There's so many ways -- they never think in terms of constructive ways of dealing with these problems. Same thing is true as with drugs.

BOND: Let me read you something that you said in 1952. You said, "I think we should have a long-range program of talking in terms of not white people and not colored people, but simply Americans. But sometimes this racial struggle is a white-versus-black, black-versus-white." How do you balance that with the statement I just read to you?

HILL: Well, I balance it by doing this, I've moved forward from that. I think we ought to think in terms not only -- not worry about white and black, we ought to think in terms of human earthlings. That's what we ought to think in terms of. Remember this, the creator of the universe apply one means of foreboding and perpetuating human beings. And what is it? It doesn't make any difference where you were born, where you worked, where you lived – a fertile male and a fertile female, from opposite ends of the earth can mate and have a child, and the child one of them can be black as jet black, the other can be white as driven snow. The child will come out, maybe black as jet black or maybe white as driven snow, or in some, great difference between the two. Most times it'll be some variation in between the two. But the point is that the creator made it possible for human beings to live anywhere in the world. And we have frogged up in the way we've gone about it, and what we've got to do is stop worrying so much about superstition and being religious or legal, and think in, work in terms of evolution is the way that the creator who has provided for things to move and change, and if we were to apply it properly then we would make progress. Where we have conflicts and problems is because we don't apply the evolutionary process properly.