10/11/09

Guest Blogger: Part III- When a Black Leader Needs To Retire

Guest Blogger Antoine Marshall was inspired from a conversation he had on the posting of a friend (shoutout to Bradley), regarding the BET employee's comments about BET which can be found here. Antoine Marshall is currently a first year law student at Wake Forest. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/antoine-marshall/1a/267/148
The three examples above are merely an example of the timeline of what seems to be every black leader.
  1. Accomplish great things
  2. Get older
  3. Believe in the hype that has been placed upon you
  4. Get addicted to the power and influence
  5. Declare yourself the self-appointed leader of all things within the black community
  6. Abandoning ideas from young leaders, insult young leaders.
Maybe this is the criteria for black leaders, or maybe the leaders viewed as the greatest are so because they are assassinated before they reach phase II or III of black leaders (King, X, Newton). While interesting to ponder upon that's not quite the purpose of this note.
I was asked a question in a conference once that I now pose to you. Name a black leader under the age of 40 who is not a musician or athlete... Don't worry I'll wait. It's not an easy question, and I have trouble doing it without doing an online search. Which brings me to the purpose of this note what we are going to do about it?

Everyone I have tagged in this note I believe is an intelligent, young African-American with the capability of becoming a leader on a local, regional, or national stage (not to say anything about the people I didn't tag, and of course I underline "capability" because it's on you to realize that potential).

Problem is, like Hales (Our BET employee), we are also the type normally shot down by the relics of movements past, who have the belief that because we haven't achieved the level of success they have in our many less years, our ideas are somehow less valuable or effective.

Despite the oncoming post-racial America (that we exceedingly are proven we don't live in) that Barack Obama is supposed to usher in. There will always be a black community, just like there will always be a Jewish, Hispanic, Muslim, Asian, etc. community. And the black leaders of today need to be just as inspired and talented as leaders past.

I had a friend who had a lunch with John Lewis (One of the big 6 from the Civil Rights Movement, and current US Representative from Georgia) and asked him what can we do as young African-Americans today to continue the fight for civil rights, and his answer mirrored many of the strategies used in the 40s-60s: march, rally, boycott, etc.

As we saw with the Jena 6 and SC Confederate Flag those methods don't work anymore and now it's on our generation to update our strategies to be more relevant and effective in today's faster society (not to say anything disparaging about John Lewis, one of our better US Congressmen).

It is my sincere hopes that this note brings about serious discussion about the state of black leadership, the transition of power over to the younger generation, and how we can cement ourselves and ideas within our communities on a local, regional, and national level, among all who are tagged or happen to stumble upon this note.

If not immediately I hope to at least grease the wheels for discussions in the near future. I understand this note is long, but how can we hope to achieve the status of leaders if we shy away from long/difficult endeavors.

With the high rates of incarceration, drug use, drop outs, births out of wedlock, single parent homes and other socio-economical attacks on our community if only one person is able to stomach and decipher my philosophical babblings on what I believe is a void in leadership among African-Americans, or recalls this note after they have reached the pinnacle of success to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued our other black leaders, then I feel the time and effort put into this note is more than worth it.

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