Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Crisis in Black Leadership

BOND: Very quickly, because we have about five minutes -- looking about you, do you see a crisis in leadership today in black America? Some people do. Cornel West says that there's a crisis of leadership in that present leadership is distant from much of the people that it purports to serve.

HOOKS: Well, I don't think I see it, but I see a change in leadership. When I came along in my early days in Tennessee, there was not a single black congressman in the South. No black people serving as state representatives. There's been a shift in role. Therefore, the one Roy Wilkins, the one, what's his name? A Martin King, and the one this or that no longer exists and perhaps shouldn't. White people don't say who is the leader of the white community ever. Any number of them. Ted Kennedy's a leader of a certain number. Daschle is the leader of certain -- Bush -- so in Memphis now we've got seven members of the city commission, six members of the county commission. We've got about nine people on the state -- in the state legislature -- I mean, about five people in the state legislature. About eighteen judges right there in Shelby County. Four members of the board of education. All of these people are leaders and most of them are close to their people. Now then you've got a mayor who happens to be black, who is more or less the leader of the city. And he's got to keep close to the people if he wants to be re-elected. A black congressman right there in our city of Shelby County. And that can be replicated all over the South, and the North for that matter. So I think that we have an abundance of leaders that we didn't have at one time. And you can't expect one person to be the paramount or ultimate leader when you've got all these people. And so what we're trying to do in Tennessee -- and I think somewhat successfully, I hope you can do it everywhere -- is to bring the leaders together in sort of a leadership conference, or council to work with some common goals.