Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Contemporary Leadership Crisis: Lack of Struggle

BOND: Now, writing about a crisis in leadership, Cornel West says that "if there’s a crisis, it’s a symptom of black distance from a vibrant tradition of resistance, from a vital community bonded by ethical ideals, from a credible sense of political struggle." Do you agree? Is there a crisis in black leadership today? And does he describe it adequately?

PINN: I think he’s a got a point in what he says. I really do. And I guess it goes back to what I said — what I’ve stated earlier and state often, that is that I think when we have a generation today that has not been part of a struggle, who’s not been afraid, who’s not had limited opportunities, has not seen people quaking and worried about their lives, the kinds of things that our generation experienced that really make you realize that things are better, that that’s not guaranteed for the future, and that we all have to continue to play a role to look out for our legacy to those coming behind us just as we’ve benefited from the legacy of those that preceded us. And I get concerned about that. I’m wondering, do we move back in some ways? It may be because we see more integration — and I don’t mean in terms of just schools and businesses — but because we now have more opportunities to be part of broader communities, both in the professional workplace as well as in our personal communities of living and socializing that we don’t see the concentration of effort and maybe focus in one or two individuals, but maybe that’s not where it should be. But I do get concerned sometimes about who’s really the major —

Or who’s the Martin Luther King of today? Who is the person who’s sort of setting the pace, setting the moral standards or the — and defining the battles that we need to keep in mind because the battles are going to be there. I don’t think the battles have all been eliminated. They may be different or they may seem different, but I think they’re still there.