Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Career: Race Consciousness

BOND: But you said something that leads to the next question. I want to ask you about race consciousness. How does race consciousness affect your life? Are you a leader who advances issues of race or issues of society or are these the same thing? I’m guessing you’ll say they’re the same thing.

RANGEL: They’re the same thing, but what do you mean by advancing? It doesn’t do well [when] four hundred and thirty-five people in the House to be talking about how racist poverty is and lack of health care and opportunity. It does a hell of a lot better to talk about not providing the resources and the access to these resources make for a weaker country. Now, I know what I’m talking about because I see who’s poor so whether you’re Hispanic or black, I’m very conscious of it. And also, a lot of people who come in to talk about taxes, trade, and other issues, they immediately talk about education with me and I’m certain that my color has a lot to do with the way people approach me. The same way I would assume with other people from different cultures that before you have the meeting you make certain that you’ve built up an understanding of mutual respect.