Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Black Leadership Today

BOND: Do you think there's a crisis in black leadership? What do you think the state of black leadership is today?

LEWIS: Black leadership today is altogether different from black leadership a few years ago.

BOND: More numerous to be -- ?

LEWIS: Well, and much more dispersed. You could count probably on a few fingers the sense of the leadership. It was -- today, you have all of these elected officials, but you have heads of many different organizations and groups. Some of that is good and maybe all of it is good -- and you have more indigenous leadership -- but in 1962, '63, '64, '65, you had a greater sense of solidarity, and maybe part of it because of segregation and racial discrimination. It didn't matter whether you lived in New York or in Washington or in Atlanta or in Jackson, Mississippi or Montgomery, Alabama, the same thing you could do and you couldn't do.

As Dr. King would say, it didn't matter whether you had a Ph.D. degree or no degree, you were all in the same boat and I think there's a feeling on the part of some black leaders today that they feel like they're in a different boat. And maybe they are. You just don't have the sense of solidarity. When we met in 1963, the so-called Big Six, and we spoke almost with one voice. We don't have that today. And maybe it's too much to hope for that that day will come again.

BOND: Well, let's hope it comes again.