Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Vision, Philosophy, and Style: Reading with a Third Eye

BOND: Well, let me move on. Think about yourself -- what do you think about the difference between vision, philosophy, and style?

WATSON: You have to bring them together.

BOND: Okay.

WATSON: If you have a vision of where you want to go, what you want to be, and what you want to do, then you have to develop a plan to do that based on your philosophy, what you believe in, your morals, and I'm a people person and I think you help as many people as you can. And how do you put that plan of action, how do you meet that goal? And so you have to know what you stand for and as a teacher -- I majored in college in education with a minor in social work, so I'm just a social worker at heart, and so you combine it all.

If you have a basic belief, it's your philosophy and then it gives you your style. And I try to work with people and bring them to the light. You know, I always tell young people when I'm speaking to them, "You've got to read with your third eye." That means you have to be analytical. You can't believe everything that's written down. I could write down that I own the Bay Bridge. Does that make it truth? Be the seeker of truth. What is the real truth behind that statement? And so, you have to bring the three and they have to mesh together.

BOND: Now, the vision that's guided your work and your life -- has this changed over time? Is somehow different now than it would've been, say, twenty years ago or twenty years before that?

WATSON: Reaching for the stars has always been my vision -- ad astra [to the stars], Latin. And I think it's been more refined. I have more focus. I'm working on the federal level now and my focus is what the federal government ought to be doing to serve the states and what does the state do to serve its people. We have states' rights, and so my vision has broadened out. At the same time, it's focused in on areas where I can be helpful. It's very difficult when the House, the Senate, and the administration are under one party. We become the underdogs. We become the minority and the power body rests in the hands of the Republicans, so it's frustrating at times to see bills passing out that you know don't serve the best interest of all the people. It's very frustrating, but we work where we can.

Well, just a few minutes ago Sheila Jackson Lee and myself were getting signatures for the Sojourner Truth statue that finally will be erected in Statuary Hall next to where the suffragettes are -- "Ain't I A Woman," and "We've been fighting for you." That was a dream of C. Delores Tucker, who just passed, is to get that statue in there and so we're following through. This is her legacy and it's ours, too. And I went around and got maybe two pages of signatures, maybe sixty signatures in ten minutes, because when I said, "Sojourner Truth who sojourned" -- her name was Isabelle and God gave her a vision that she should travel and spread the word and her famous speech, "Ain't I A Woman?" And so I took -- "Where do we sign?" "Right here." Got those signatures. So, you know, you have a dream, you have a goal.

You've got to work your plan. You can't just dream it. You gotta get up out of bed and do something. And I teach my nieces -- I don't have any children -- I teach my nieces and nephews, "You got a problem? Well, let's not spend our time in the problem. What's your solution? What are we going to do? Where do we go next? As soon as that problems comes, you gotta start thinking what you're going to do about it." And I push them that way, so -- and I make myself. I said, "Okay, how're we going to go about addressing that?" So you have to have a plan. You have to work your plan. It shouldn't be just a dream.


WATSON: You've got to have action. And so that's what I've combined on my -- I'm a worker.