Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Characteristics of Good Leadership

BOND: Let me talk to you about — do you think your legitimacy as a leader, and you don’t deny you have legitimacy as a leader because you know you do, I know you do, we all know you do —

RANGEL: When you’re a chairman, no one’s going to challenge you.

BOND: Yeah. But I think you have legitimacy in other ways separate and apart from the chairmanship by the things you’ve done in life before you became chairman, but anyway, is that grounded in your ability to persuade people to follow your vision or in your ability to articulate the agenda of a movement?


BOND: Both these things?

RANGEL: Of course. There’re so many people that just want relief. They want to aspire to do better, and they see you and they hope and trust that you can make their lives easier and if not them, then certainly their children. You can’t let those people down. And so you have to find out what is it going to take to improve education, to improve health care, to get affordable housing and to somehow make certain that it’s not a minority issue. I have been able not to prove to the private sector or to Republicans that these things are important because it’s the right, humane thing to do, but if they love this country, they can’t afford not to do it and so it’s a combination of trying to do not only in this country but all over the world.

One of the biggest thing we’ve got in the trade agreement is respecting the right of other people not to use slave labor, not to use child labor, to be able to organize. To me, it’s the right thing to do but it was a leadership thing to convince the Republicans that it was something they had to do to have what? A bipartisan trade policy, not a Republican, not a Democrat, so I don’t think there’s easy answers to your questions, but I think both are very important.