Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Mentors and Community Support

BOND: Were there other relatives besides your immediate family who served as mentors or influences or people in the community that aren’t related by blood who carried out the same roles?

WILDER: Oh, yes. I had a friend of mine -- he’s a friend of the family named Roland Ealey. He was a lawyer and he would stop by to pick us up to take us to Sunday School -- he taught Sunday School. As a matter of fact, he was one of the fellows that wrote the letter for me to get into Howard Law School. And he would constantly encourage me to do whatever it is I could do. And when you look back on these things, Julian, and you recognize that no person is self-made. Communities cared about us, we cared about them. Some of the school teachers that we had who weren’t making good money -- I would remember when I was waiting tables at all of the hotels and country clubs in Virginia, how the head waiters on occasion, would pull them aside and said, “Look, we’re going to try to give you as much extra work as you can. But stay in school, and don’t you come in and work full time. I did that. I dropped out because of money. You stay in." So I had -- there’s so many people to thank you can’t begin to name them all!