Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Race-Transcending Leadership

BOND: Let me ask you about race consciousness. Do you see yourself as a leader who advances issues of race or issues of society, or can these be the same thing?

MOORE: They can be the same thing I told you earlier that my organizing principle from very, very young was to look out for those people who are the most disadvantaged. And the majority of African Americans in this country happen to fall into that category, but as a result of adopting that as an organizing principle, I have found myself being a champion of the rights of Southeast Asians in my community, of people of Hispanic descent, of Native Americans in my district, of gay people, and all kinds of people or minorities who need their rights protected because I think it’s extremely important in order to protect everybody’s rights to protect the rights of the minority.

BOND: Now, is there such a thing as a race-transcending leader — that is, a person of color who’s a leadership figure who transcends race?

MOORE: I think that I would be honored if people saw me that way and I think they do. I think I was elected to a congressional district and people were surprised. I was not surprised, and it was not a majority black-voting district, but it had been because I had been in public life for eighteen years and because I looked at issues beyond race. I could see the needs of people who were young. I could see the needs of people who were female. I could see the needs of people who needed opportunities or they needed a second chance as a non-violent offender despite race. And because I could operate across racial lines, I think I have been rewarded in my career with the confidence and the respect of people of other races.

You know, when I was younger I took every foreign language that I ever had the opportunity to do it, because it was always important to me to be able to communicate with people outside of my own race.