Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influence of Geographic Identity

BOND: Let me put you in another place. Imagine that you're somewhere out of the country, and somebody comes up to you and gives you a form you've got to fill out and it's got some boxes to check, and one of the boxes asks where you're from and one says Virginia and the other says the South. Which one of those boxes are you going to check?

MARSH: It depends on where I was and what answer --

BOND: Which identity, just off the top of your head, is strongest?

MARSH: Virginia.

BOND: Virginia, stronger than Southerner?

MARSH: I'm -- you know. I'm from Virginia.

BOND: Because Southerner's too big, or too complex?

MARSH: The reason why -- it depends on the person I'm talking to, because to that person the more relevant answer might be from the southern part of the United States. But if it's someone who knows something about the United States, I would say from Virginia. So I mean, I would try to make my answer relevant to the question. That's why I said it depends upon who I was talking to. Because I've traveled around the world everywhere. People ask me -- if it's somebody that knows something about the United States, I will say Virginia. But if it's somebody that doesn't know anything and says, "What country are you from?" I'm from the United States. I might say southern United States, but I'd probably say United States.