Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influences Outside the Classroom

BOND: Now, when you were in school yourself, what about extracurricular activities? Student Council? Girl Scouts? Those kinds of things?

WATSON: I was in the Latin Club, I was in the Girl Scouts. I played soccer — field soccer — tennis. The AYD, American Youth for Democracy. We found it was a front for young communists. We were in the DAPs, Deputy Auxiliary Police. My father was a police officer and got us in, and we joined many community organizations.

BOND: I still remember "Mica, mica, parva stella, miror quaenam sis tam bella." You know what that is? That's Latin. You're supposed to know that.

WATSON: Yeah, well, veni, vidi, vici, I came, I saw, I conquered.

BOND: No, no, no. This is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." That's all the Latin I remember from my high school days. What about mentors? What about people outside of your classroom teacher, other people —

WATSON: And my aunt.

BOND: And your aunt. Early on and in high school and later, other people who helped guide you on your way?

WATSON: Yes. I always had a very strong family, as I said. My great-aunt was a teacher.

BOND: And your father a policeman.

WATSON: A police officer and his mother was in a convent. And I tell you that because she raised us like we were in a convent and so did he. And so, they taught you the basics of behavior, you know. Every time I get in the bathtub and wash behind my ears, I can hear them. I can hear my grandmother say, "Children are seen and not heard." I could hear my father say, "You don't talk with your mouth full of food," and these things come back to me quite often, so I can say my strong family, my circle of friends and my great-aunt's circle of friends are still — those who are still alive — are still like mentors to me today. So I had a very strong, strong family and we still are — most of my mother's, or all of them are gone except my mother who's ninety-six.

BOND: Oh, good for you. Good for you.