Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influence of Affirmative Action

BOND: Do you think that the circumstances of your life have produced you? Have made you who you are today, and they are different for you than they are for Charlie Houston or Thurgood Marshall? I mean, you're three different people who end up pretty much at the same place. Can you draw from the experiences and what you know about these two other men and compare them with your own, and wonder whether or not there are other Charlie Houstons, other Oliver Hills, other Thurgood Marshalls being produced today.

HILL: Oh, I'm sure that there are plenty of people with superior intellect from mine that could do anything that I've ever done and will do things that will be done. It's just a question of giving people an opportunity. The question is, we ought to be thinking in terms of trying to make it possible for people to have the opportunity to advance, and to -- the utmost of their ability. And you can -- people are talking about that they're against affirmative action. Name a person that has achieved anything, that hasn't had the ability – rather, not the ability – that hadn't had the benefit of affirmative action. You can't name one!

BOND: Of course, there are people who will say that they're insulted by affirmative action.

HILL: They can be insulted! People used to be insulted by a lot of things! Remember what was known as the Three Musketeers? They each had their swords on the back of their -- and if somebody said something, they got insulted, and they pulled the swords, and killed the people. You've had people sensitive about their personal ego – that's ego! – be insulted. I'm talking about people having esteem and ego are two different things.

What we need is a desire to provide and make it possible for everybody to enjoy this experience on this earth. We're here is where we are. We're here. I don't know about anything happening before I got here. I don't believe in anything that's going to happen after I die. I want people to have an opportunity to enjoy this experience, and to enjoy it, recognize the fact that that things change. I mean the creator -- I don't care what you pick out, it changes. Whether it's something man did, or something nature does, there's going to be a change. And we should make it our best effort to determine what's going to change, and how the change will best enable masses of people to get the benefit of it.