Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Early Leadership Development: Overcoming Shyness

BOND: Let me push you a little bit on something. Now, you said you were shy.

MOORE: I am.

BOND: And it’s your peers who’re pushing you forward. Now, are they the people who pushed you forward into student government?

MOORE: Yes, they did. I mean, people — I was, I think, voted the most likely to become the first female president of the United States, and my peers pushed me to run for student council, pushed me to speak for them when we were planning to boycott the school for a new school facility, which we got. Lerone Bennett’s Before the Mayflower was a book that we boycotted, marched, walked out of the school in order to get, and they always pushed me to the front to be the spokesperson.

BOND: But how’d you overcome this shyness? I mean, a shy person doesn’t do these things.

MOORE: I know. But, you know, I had a mother who had a very powerful personality and for years she had been putting me in front of people with her Easter plays and Christmas plays and James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones and I was required to perform in the church. And my mother —

BOND: Do you remember any of God’s Trombones?

MOORE: Oh, yes, I do.

BOND: Give me a really quick little bit.

MOORE: “And God stepped out on space, and He looked around and He said, 'I’m lonely. I’ll make me a world.' And as far as the eye of God could see, darkness covered everything, blacker than a hundred midnights down in a cypress swamp.”

BOND: Well, if you go on with that, I won’t do anything else but listen to that.