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It's Time to Call for New Black Leadership

When Julian Bond was 20 years old, he was one of hundreds of students who founded the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1960. Asked today if a movement led by a single figure is most effective, Bond says, "They probably are more effective with one leader. Most people—whites, especially—like for there to be one leader. But I spent all my early years in SNCC arguing there shouldn't be one—that having one was dangerous, that many voices should be heard."

Kevin Powell, born in the 1960s, seems to agree: "It's got to be collective leadership. It's got to be holistic and be able to speak in these times. People born between 1965 and 1980, the hip-hop generation, we're the first generation to go to integrated schools—we grew up with crack and AIDS. Leadership has to be able to connect the dots. The day of the single leader is over. We've elevated Martin and Malcolm like they were the only people doing work. And that's not true."

Gloria Dandridge, who came of age in the 1940s, adds, "People think that leaders have to be known, or to already be made in a way. Young people need to go into urban areas and organize. Stay there and live in the area, foster that and make it grow."

illustration: Sam Weber

What will Sharpton do when he returns here to the fold? That's hard to say. The other day I heard Councilman Charles Barron referred to on the radio as "the new Al Sharpton."

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