Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Living in the Bucket of Blood

BOND: Now, earlier, because your mother and father separated, you move into a neighborhood that's got a spectacular name. What's that name?

BRAUN: The Bucket of Blood.

BOND: What was that like? What was the change like for you?

BRAUN: It was really very traumatic for all of us, but in a way– I'll tell you, it's funny– It's one of those life traumas that I'm grateful for now. It probably set my brother on a path to his destruction, but I don't think I would be as rounded or as grounded, if you will, in the black experience if it hadn't been for that because we grew up in a community that for all intents and purposes was suburban, in a family, that, again, among blacks, we weren't rich people by any means, but we were considered to be well off, but well off in a different kind of environment. My parents weren't social enough to be part of the black -- what was it, the Black Bourgeoisie? Right. They weren't that.

BOND: This is the 50th anniversary of the Black Bourgeoisie being published.

BRAUN: Is it?

BOND: Yes.

BRAUN: Well, he had the books. They weren't part of that, the club structure and all the rest of it. They weren't part of that, but they were part of that other, the black intellectuals, that tradition. That's more where they were, and so I really did not have a real sense of what the poverty was like, of what really the kind of degradation that came of the kind of grinding poverty that the urban ghettos represented. I'd seen poverty before, okay, particularly on the farm. I mean, we spent our summers on a farm and so I'd seen people, you know, living in houses with dirt floors and the outhouse and I knew all of that, but I hadn't seen it with people piled in tenements and rats running around biting babies and kids getting shot on the street corner.

BOND: What did that do to you or for you?

BRAUN: I think it really did -- I think it helped round out and helped me develop in important ways. It gave me an understanding and an appreciation of the effects of, not just slavery and Jim Crow, but of oppression and particularly economic oppression that I would not have otherwise had. It gave me another kind of vision about my own life commitment and my own path and that vision then included trying to do what I could to try to push back and to be a force in opposition to the forces that had created the poverty that I experienced.