Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Mentors: SNCC

BOND: Let me back up a little bit to your time in SNCC, and you mentioned Stokely Carmichael and Bob Brown. What was the relationship between these figures and you? I mean, you're the little younger guy. What was the relationship?

RUSH: Well, Bob and I —

BOND: I'm thinking of a mentorship relationship.

RUSH: Yeah, Bob Brown was a brilliant young man, as you know. And Bob became like a — he was my mentor. He was my father in the civil rights movement. He really kind of took me under his wings. I think part of it was because I wouldn't let him leave me. I wouldn't let him — I decided that I was going to be with him and also because of the fact that Bob was the consummate civil rights person. He didn't have nothing but the clothes on his back, okay, didn't know where he was going to get the next meal from and because I was still in the service at the time, I did have a family and I had a place to stay and a regular meal, so Bob would just find himself at my house a lot. And then, ultimately, after I got out of the service, I became a vagabond like him so we started going around to other folks but we became — got this close kinship, this close kinship.

I remember going to my first political convention. There was a CORE convention in Columbus, Ohio, and that was the convention where Roy Innis ultimately took over CORE, but that was my first political convention, and I was just wild-eyed and, man, it was just — you know, I found my niche. I found the place because I was so excited about what was going on. But Bob and I have developed a very, very close relationship and Bob and I, after Stokely became a member of the Panther Party, Bob and I organized a chapter there, and we recruited Fred Hampton into the chapter. Bob didn't want an official title. That's the way he was. He liked to be in the background, but Fred Hampton became the Deputy Chairman. I became the Deputy Minister of Defense, and, you know, that's where we started out.

BOND: Before we talk about Fred, back a little, whatever happened to Monroe Sharpe? Do you remember Monroe Sharpe? The name just came into my head.

RUSH: Yeah, I remember Monroe. Monroe Sharpe, I think he's still around. I haven't seen him in years.

BOND: But he was active in the SNCC apparatus.

RUSH: Yeah, as a matter of fact, Monroe was the head of SNCC at the time and it was all Monroe Sharpe and there were some others. Lawrence Landry and all of them were around.

BOND: Sure. Yeah, those are probably their names.