Black Leadership in the 21st century takes me first to longing to understand who the leaders of our time are. Do they have what it takes to lead us? As we think about leadership, we must bring our attention to leaders. Those we give power to and place our trust in. Those persons whom we put our lives in their hands and hope that they are looking out for our best interests.
Such leaders of today are the Rev. Bernice A. King, the only child of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who followed him into the ministry. Kimberly C. West-Faulcon, former Western Regional Council for the NAACP legal defense and educational fund. She was named one of Ebony magazine’s 30 Leaders of the Future. Those are just two people who represent an army of black leaders worldwide. Black leaders of today have a great challenge that they must meet. They have the challenge of reaching the bar that has been set high by the black leaders before them.
The term leadership as defined by Webster’s dictionary as “the act or instance of leading.” Granted, that sounds great but how do we identify good leadership? It is neither something that is boasted nor something that is created. It is something that is harnessed through spiritual intervention. It is an action taken when odds against us are not popular. Leadership is not in the air that we breathe, but in the souls of those who accept the overwhelming burden.
With that in mind, we must prepare ourselves to pass the leadership torch to a new generation. One born in freedom, not in despair, and one full of hope, yearning for change. Black leadership in the 21st century is not Pan-Africanism. It is not found in the fiery speeches, protests, meetings in church basements or in the hymns of the past. It is in the product of all these elements.
It is found in the ones who do not receive the medals, the plaques or the praise. It is found in the ones who give their time to the young people and do not become weary while doing well. It is also found in the ones who take care of their families and give of themselves until they have nothing left to give.
Leadership in this new day must be given to trusted individuals. Gone are the days when longevity equaled leadership. This mantle must be passed to the younger generation. The face of leadership must change. We must not fear the hands of the young, but embrace their spirit. We must lead not just by example, but lead with a willingness to learn as we go. Black leadership in the 21st century will live no more if we are not willing to pass the tradition of strong leadership.
We as people must stand up and demand change. We must do the unthinkable and demand a change not from other races of people, but from our own. We have to make sure that those who represent us are truly a good representation of who we are as people. No longer can we sit back and allow others to stand for us knowing they are a poor representation of themselves as well as their race. That is not the leadership we need.
Black leadership in the 21st century and beyond will always be sustaining the black family while improving the country and lives of those around them.
This has been a Moment with Meka. Remember to always think outside the lines.