Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influence of E. W. Steptoe

BOND: E.W. Steptoe whom we've mentioned before?

MOSES: Amzie sent me to C. [Curtis] C. Bryant and then it was C.C. who sent me out, actually took me out, to Steptoe's because Steptoe sent word to him that he wanted some of those voter registration workers after it got kind of on the airwaves that we were doing this voter registration work after Mrs. [Scolby] and them went down to Liberty, so Steptoe was small in terms of his physical stature and wiry, and they had a few cows. There was no indoor plumbing. There was a well outside and Shirley Jean, she was about 8 or 9. She would bring the water in. Charlie would go down the road and bring the cows in and milk them every morning, so when Herbert Lee was murdered, Sing who was Steptoe's wife was really concerned about Charlie because he had to walk those roads every day and so Marian Wright Edelman—well, at that time, she was Marian Wright—who had come down and became the first person to pass the Mississippi State Bar, she arranged for Charlie to go to school up north in Boston, a really prestigious white school and he upset the director of the school apparently because he organized— Charlie had grown up in Mississippi, his whole life in rural Mississippi was black people, when did he see white people and in what circumstances, so his first thing he did was organize all the black kids to have a black table at lunch. They got him out of there. He didn't last a year.

BOND: Do you remember you and I and I think Hollis and Curtis driving from Jackson down to McComb and we got to the car and we got to Steptoe's house and you said, "Julian, stay in the car," and I didn't stay in the car. I got out of the car and came up on the stairs with you. You knocked on the door and Mr. Steptoe put his shotgun out that door. I'll remember that until the day I die.