Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Guiding Life Philosophy: "Being Ready"

BOND: Do you have a philosophy that guides you through life? Has it sustained you through challenges or moments of alienation? Does that philosophy stick with you always?

JONES: Hmmm — Well, yeah, strange at these moments that maybe you have it as well. It's the old people. It says I want to be ready. "I want to be ready, ready to put on a long white robe." What does that mean, "I want to be ready"? I want to be ready for you, a man who I've grown up respecting and now you're asking me sitting here with me and asking me these questions. I want to be ready for my company this afternoon. I want to be ready for my death because I've dodged a bullet. I'm in love again. I want to be ready for his death.

I have nieces and nephews who are living in poverty that I thought we would never see again. I want to be ready to be their uncle, he one that has gotten a Kennedy Center Award, that one that says to them, you don't have to live like this. How do I do it? How do we do it without being a real oppressive force, blaming them for circumstances? No. Generosity of heart. I want to be ready.