Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Social Consciousness: Gender

JONES: When people would ask me, at nine, ten, eleven, "Elaine, what are you going to do when you grow up?" Because they would always ask it. And I'd say, "Well I'm going to be a lawyer." It was interesting to look on people's faces, this little ten year old telling them, "I'm going to be a lawyer," with pigtails and you know. And they'd know the society which we live in, and they would pat me on the head and say, "Yes."

BOND: "Yes, little girl." JONES: "Yes, little girl. Yes, you will be." They never said no, but they were very condescending, some of them. But you know, my parents never condescended. They're always there, proudly, "Elaine's going to be a lawyer."

BOND: So they're reinforcing this?

JONES: Oh, they are! And I don't know -- and but now, my mother was interesting. They reinforced it, but when I graduated – I went to Howard undergraduate – and when I was, let's say, second year at Howard, my mother wrote me this letter. She said, "Well, Elaine, I know you want to go to law school," but she said, "Please take some education courses."

BOND: Just in case.

JONES: That's right. She said, "I may be able to help you get on in the school system in Norfolk, but please take the course." And I said, "Mother, I don't need to." She said, "Please." So, for mother I took three education courses.

BOND: Well, see there's a time she would have told you to learn how to do typing or shorthand, so we have made some progress.

JONES: That's right, we did make some progress. So I took three education courses and she did the same thing to my sister. She said, "Take some education courses."

BOND: Who also became a lawyer.

JONES: That's right. She's a judge now. She was at Hampton Institute, and mother wrote her, "Take a double minor in education and something else."