Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Experiencing Mississippi and Amzie Moore

BOND: That's a perfect segue to a next question. How did you choose to go to Mississippi? I know that Bayard Ruston said go to Atlanta to do this and from that, you ended up going to Mississippi through Jane Stembridge but how did you think this was something you could do, you should do?

MOSES: I think it was Amzie [Moore]. What was real was Amzie. He clearly was real and he clearly had a focus and it was a focus that I clearly thought I could work with with him, but then I also— The larger picture, I think, is the sit-in movement which got me there and so we were in Atlanta the summer of '60. You guys were there. And I was watching what you all were doing. I didn't see myself being involved in what you guys were doing in Atlanta with the sit-ins, but when I reached Amzie and saw what he wanted to do, I could see myself doing that which is basically this idea, well, you're going to talk to people and you can't go to register, but you are going to get them, work with them, to go down and register, so it's this difference, again, with this issue that Ella [Baker] identified between helping people into leadership versus being a leader that's doing something. The Freedom Riders, they're the leaders, right? They're out there.

BOND: They're risking their lives.

MOSES: They're risking their lives.

BOND: But you did the same thing.

MOSES: Yes. But not out front, right? I'm escorting someone to the courthouse.

BOND: You get beaten for doing that.

MOSES: You get beaten, yes, but there's a difference between, well, we're going to plan this action and I'm going to be out in front as opposed to talking to people to say, well, you guys have to decide if you're going to act and if you act, we're going to be with you.