This weekend, I once again had the pleasure of attending the “America I Am” exhibit. I enjoyed viewing the contributions of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, and so many others. I was excited to view things that I had missed before and review items that I saw on my first visit. What brought the most angst to me during this 2nd attendance was naming who are our current leaders in Black America. I couldn’t think of any.
Yes, we do have Rev. Al Sharpton, but quietly (or not so quietly since I’m telling you guys), I’m not a huge fan. I feel like he’s not effective. We also have Tavis Smiley. Kudos to him for even putting this project together. But I don’t think he’s got the mass appeal that MLK or Malcolm had. And of course we have President Obama. But to me, he’s a leader who happens to be Black, not a leader for Black America. And trust me, there’s a difference.
We have Black politicians who have made their mark, such as Harold Ford, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Jr., Carol Moseley-Braun, and others, but it’s time that people from the new generation start stepping up. And let’s face it-the aforementioned people (Douglass, Tubman, King, and X) didn’t run for any office; they didn’t speak from a Senate floor; they didn’t have their name on any ballots. They saw a need, an injustice, something that was wrong and went about making it right. Who’s doing that now?
Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe we don’t need any leaders in Black America. Maybe everything is copacetic with Black people and everything is fine in our worlds. Or maybe we’re still dealing with issues of drugs, abuse, poverty, and lack of education.
What do you guys think? Is there a need for leaders in Black America in 2011? Or is it up to each family or community to make due with what they have? Is there any way we can make things better for people? There’s always going to be dissension, unfortunately, but how do we rise above it? Maybe I should just start a coalition of trying to get my friends together and we can start working on making a difference in our communities and see how we can do something on a larger scale. Or maybe I should just be content that I’m doing ok, and not worry about anyone else. But when I look at my community or watch the news or read the paper, I know that not all of us are receiving the support that we need. And that saddens me. Sometimes we need some help, as opposed to someone always trying to bring us down.
Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.
- Is black America stronger with Obama? (thegrio.com)
- Obama’s nod to Al Sharpton: asset or liability for 2012 reelection bid? (csmonitor.com)