Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Creating Global and Local Leaders

BOND: I was going to ask you, as a society as a whole, how can we make opportunities or create opportunities for there to be new leaders and raise them up and give them the opportunity to lead?

WATSON: See, you were a leader and we always referenced you as somebody who got out there and made a difference. We need others like you, that are college educated and so we have those — but they tend to go into private practices, you know, and so on, and don't want to get into public life. It takes too much away from you. And so —

BOND: But there's never any shortage of candidates running for office.

WATSON: Exactly. But to become a national leader adds on to that responsibility and adds to your load that you carry, because you not only are there for your constituents but you're there for everybody in this country as a spokesperson, everyone who is of color and so on. We need to develop that.

BOND: But you spoke a moment ago about reverting to a kind of national leadership that we had in the past — but aren't there new challenges today that we need a different kind of leadership?

WATSON: No. I was describing the make-up of the human being. The issues are different.

BOND: Okay. Right.

WATSON: As I said, we're in a globalized kind of economy and a globalized world where you've got to take on international relations. You can't be an isolationist, not in this world today, and so we need a person who could speak out and say, "If our jobs are outsourced, we lose." Katrina pulled the blanket off of all the poor who look like me, and so we need a spokesperson strongly out there saying, "We have got to do something about poverty and taking the color off of poverty in this country, not the cover-up but the color." and if you looked at what happened in terms of Katrina and its aftermath, most of the people were black.

BOND: You know, this doesn't have a lot to do with what we're talking about. I was watching the Monday Night Football, Atlanta playing the New Orleans Saints. They showed a picture, a photograph, of the Saints' practice facility, which is outside New Orleans, and Al Michaels, a commentator, said — and it looked very nice, pretty. He said, "Of course, FEMA fixed it up." I thought, "FEMA fixed up the New Orleans Saints practice field?" Anyway, Congressman — Congresswoman Watson — I was with a member of Congress from Chicago last night, Jan Schakowsky, and I had to introduce her and I said "Congressman" and I'm so sorry and I'm apologizing to her now and Congresswoman Watson.

WATSON: That's all right.

BOND: Thank you so much for being with us.

WATSON: Well, I appreciate you, of all people, coming here, and I was very impressed, I said, "Julian Bond is going to come and interview me."

BOND: Yes. I came on the subway.

WATSON: On these issues and I do appreciate it. I appreciate your concern and the fact that you're delving into what makes a leader.

BOND: We appreciate your — this is a busy time for you and we appreciate your taking this time. You came right here from the House floor and I'm surprised you haven't been called back.

WATSON: Well, by the fact that you are seeing us — well, we will be late tonight, but I think this is an important thing that you're doing and I appreciate being part of it.

BOND: We're glad to have had you.

WATSON: Thank you.