Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Crisis in Black Leadership

BOND: In minority communities generally, black communities particularly, you keep hearing people talk about a crisis of leadership.

JONES: Right.

BOND: Is there a crisis, and if there is a crisis, what is it?

JONES: I don't think there's a crisis. You know what the problem is?

BOND: What?

JONES: We're looking outside of ourselves for leaders. We're looking outside. We're looking -- where is the leader? No. We've got to look inside, what is it that I can do?

BOND: But society, both the larger society and the smaller society that you and I are part of, it wants leadership figures. It wants identifiable people -- "That's the leader, that's the man or woman in charge."

JONES: Right, but you know -- our -- we -- because of the complexity of our world and life today, it's very, very difficult. We're moving away from that. In many ways we're more fragmented. Although you know, Internet and technology, communication and e-mail and all that, we're still fragmented because we're living in our own cocoons. Our families, our gated communities, our environments wherever we are. And it's interesting, it's almost at inverse proportions: the more we can have mass communication, the faster we can communicate, the smaller our areas of real interaction with other people. You know, we have -- the -- just the vastness and the speed of communication have – what is it, impersonalized, is that the word I'm looking for?

BOND: Yes, yes.

JONES: Impersonalized our relationships. You know, we don't talk to each other any more, get our facial expression, interaction. We read it on e-mail. And so, as we are able to communicate faster, more globally, our spheres of interaction with people is getting smaller. Therefore, we are even more fragmented.

BOND: And more impersonal.

JONES: And more impersonal. That's right. And that's what happening to us, which means this whole idea of leaders means looking to one or two or three people that can lead a fragmented community, because even with our communities, we're more fragmented. You know, I don't think it's going to get us anywhere. We have got to – when you said, leadership – we've got to develop leadership. We've -- our children have got to think and understand that they can bring something to the table.