Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Oakland Mentor: Ron Dellums

LEE: Ron Dellums — Ron influenced me like you would not believe. I actually came back here during the Watergate era as an intern for Ron. I was one of the few and one of the first black Capitol interns, so I was placed in Ron Dellums' office.

BOND: What about him particularly? What was it in him that influenced you?

LEE: God, Ron's spirit, first of all, is awesome. He is a political person, a public servant, but he has this inner strength and this spirit and this sense about himself where he could kind of figure out everything — the policy, the politics. Ron operates on a variety of levels and I majored in psychology and psychiatric social work and he did also, and so being around Ron, you can function at the many levels that a lot of people don't function in, and he's one of the greatest statesmen and is a warrior and he's very clear on the nature of progressive politics and Ron always has been unifier. He never would allow any of us on his staff to be divisive. And he always said to us, "Whenever you have to make a decision for me" — because he gave his staff a lot of latitude — "the only question I want you to ask is, 'Is it right?' If it's the right thing to do, then do it, regardless." And so Ron's principles and his integrity are to behold and I tell you, it was wonderful working for him and now, of course —

BOND: Succeeding him.

LEE: Succeeding him, but also in the future, we're working very hard to make sure he's elected as Mayor of Oakland.

BOND: Yes, I saw him announcing.