Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership as Stewardship

BOND: Now, here’s a question we’ve asked many other people and some people say, "Well, it never happened," but I know it happened with everybody. When did you first say to yourself — probably not out loud, but to yourself — "I am a leader. Other people follow me. Other people look to me for leadership"? From what you’ve been saying, I’m guessing that it happened in high school and college.

MOORE: It absolutely did. And you know, my mom always wanted me to become an elected official and I would tell my mom, "Knock it off. If you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to go put you away in some sort of home." And eighteen months after my mother died, after she died — she wanted me to be an representative in the State Assembly. I was lying asleep in my bed and I dreamed that I was standing at a podium next to my state representative, and about six months later I was elected and I was screaming, "Yo, Ma, you’re supposed to be dead, leave me alone, I don’t want to do this." And I knew then. And so I feel that I have the kind of leadership.

It’s a stewardship of people. I feel that people really, really depend on me to speak for them, to really examine the issues and make sure that I am — it’s a stewardship. My leadership style is not to go it alone but to really, really try to put my ear to the ground and figure out where the masses of people are, what they need, what is in the best interest of people, to use my judgment and my intellectual prowess and to be able to articulate those things and make them work for me.