Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Black Leadership for Today and the Future

BOND: Our society today, what kind of leaders does it demand?

IFILL: It demands moral examples as well as intellectual examples. It matters that the black family is in crisis and that when you have as a leader of the free world a black man who’s married to a black woman with two little black girls, that sends a different message, that — not only to the people who are the naysayers, who don’t believe the black family’s together, but also the people who are going to be future black families who say, "Hmm, here’s a standard that I can try to meet." It matters a great deal that we find a way to speak in a broader sense about what our problems are and not just have it all become a knee-jerk, "Well, I’m black so they did it to me."

BOND: How can we foster the most effective leaders for the future? How can we make sure that whatever the definition we attach to them is that there are a sufficient number of them, trained, equipped, and so on?

IFILL: Well, the first thing we do is what you just discussed and raised, which is broaden our notion of what leadership is. If we broaden our notion of what leadership is, then we can train people up to do a million different things which aren’t just one narrow destination. You can — part of it begins where my parents began, was the sense of possibility, and then the next part is the part of responsibility. You just don’t go and make a lot of money for yourself and say look what I’ve done for the people. No.

And the next part is execution and then what do you do and how do you do it. And then the entire — the moral standard, the fact that you are there, the fact that you are — that as you live, you’re conscious, especially if you’re in a visible role, of the fact that a lot of people are looking at the way you do things, how you execute it, and then trying to — and, hopefully, you’re setting a standard they can strive to meet.

BOND: Thank you. Thank you for setting a high standard. Thank you for being with us.

IFILL: Thank you, Julian.