Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Inculcating a Spirit of Collective Action Today

BOND: Now, you mentioned the civil rights movement as an important moment in your life, something we don’t have now as a reference point, at least not ongoing as it was then. What can we do to inculcate this kind of spirit with young people today as it was inculcated in your life then?

MOORE: Well, I can tell you that conditions are really developing and shaping up for our being able to replicate what we did in the ’60s. I think that there’s great inequality — financial inequality — among people. That there’s a great divestment in educational opportunity in this country as the economic opportunities are more and more polarized. We see a retreat on most of the commitments that have been made, that were made during the civil rights era.

We see a relentless effort, despite our having renewed the Voting Rights Act, to deny folk their vote. I only need to mention to you 2000, Florida. 2000, Ohio, 2004, for your total recall of what it has meant to not have full voting rights and I think the conditions are ripe for our being able to teach people the importance of not just being mad for one day, you know, not to say, "Oh, we have the highest incarceration rate of African American men in the world," where any community across the country, you can find unemployment among African American men anywhere from 40 to 55 percent, something worse than the Great Depression. Where you can see ordinary Americans of any color having no health care, dying or becoming tremendously ill from preventable diseases were there health care. We have the conditions to really teach people the efficacy of collective action.