Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leaders' Obligations to the Black Community

BOND: Do you feel black leaders have an obligation to help other African Americans and is there a point at which that obligation ends and one can pursue his or her own personal political ambitions?

JEALOUS: This, for me, I guess more is a matter of collective survival. The obligation that we all have, leaders or not, is to extend the ladder of opportunity. You know, my — the first member of my family to join the NAACP — Ed Bland, born a slave, died a state senator — very much believed and challenged his children that for every ounce of privilege that we gain this country you’re supposed to invest half an ounce in somebody who’s less privileged. And so I think any leader, any political leader who’s just sort of pursuing their own personal gain or getting what they can out of the world while they’re alive in sort of a vain or wealth-motivated sense, is scandalous if that’s what your leadership becomes about. I don’t begrudge anybody who accumulates personal wealth but there is an obligation to use that wealth to give other people, if nothing else, the same opportunity.