Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Creating New Leaders

BOND: Does today's society demand different kinds of leadership? Do we need different kinds of people now than we did, say, five, ten years ago?

LEE: I think we need — yeah, we need more people. We need younger people. We need, I think, people who can get back to some of what we did way back when. I mean, that street heat is still important because that's fundamental in terms of democracy, is petitioning our government to address, to redress its wrongs, you know? And so I think that it's very important that leadership now understand that once you become a leader in whatever arena you're in, that you can't abandon the people and the movement that is out there that probably brought you there, and so new leadership I think needs to understand — and I always say this inside/outside strategy has to connect with people a little bit better than what we have in the past.

BOND: Now, realizing that we need more leaders now, what can we do to create, to foster new leadership? How can we make sure new leadership does come?

LEE: Well, I tell you, I am working very closely with young people. I think the hip-hop community is phenomenal. I think that many young kids in grammar school are unbelievable. After my vote against this war, I heard from thousands of young people whose teachers encouraged them to write me, and so I stay in touch with those young kids in grammar school. They come in my office — so I think it's important whatever we're doing is to engage with young people and mentor them and work with them. I take them with me on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage that John Lewis puts on every couple of years to Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham. I want young people in California to connect with what happened in the civil rights movement, and so I take them with me on trips and, you know — so, I just think it's important for those of us who are over thirty, that we bring young people into our offices and go with them where they want us to go and take them where we're going.

BOND: Congresswoman Lee, thank you for being with us.

LEE: Good to be with you, Julian. Good to see you again.

BOND: Good to see you.