Is Black Leadership Dead?

A new poll shows that the majority of African Americans are disappointed in the state of black leadership in America. A total of 85 percent of poll respondents said that they were either unhappy or extremely unhappy with the current state of black leadership.

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder case, a united front in the black community led to the public outcry demanding justice, and even justice by any means necessary for his killer Robert Zimmerman. From the NAACP to the New Black Panther Party almost every black grassroots organization spoke out for justice. And almost every black elected official, minister, and activist called for justice.

But who is speaking for who? Prior events like Jena 6, Hurricane Katrina, the shooting death of Sean Bell, and the protest of the death penalty for Troy Davis, many black activists are only heard from when the issue gets national attention and goes viral through almost every media outlet out there.  This is one of the main problems with black leadership today.

The same poll respondents were asked, “Do you think that most of America defines black leadership to consist primarily of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?” Nearly three-fourths of survey respondents answered “yes.” A follow-up question was given to the participants in the poll asking, “Do you think it’s a problem that some people identify most of black leadership to consist of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?”  An overwhelming majority, 81 percent, answered “yes.”

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are the spokespeople,  the “usual suspects” when it comes to issues of race in the black community. Their opinions are sought out to speak for an entire community. This is not a bad thing because we do need visible black leaders in the community. However with black leadership being centralized, certain issues get missed and others become one-dimensional. Instead of being proactive with our leadership, we only react while our prominent black leaders are mainly seen when the cameras are rolling and the topic is racism. Many experts have speculated that the decline of leadership today is a result of black leadership not evolving post the civil rights movement.


2 Replies to “Is Black Leadership Dead?”

  1. My goodness, no, Sharpton and Jackson are not enough. The article sums up their roles fairly well. They are black leaders while the cameras are rolling, but the causes they take up are fashionable, media rich causes. They have done little to lift or unite the consciousness of black America around a long term vision of the future. Jesse Jackson fought the good fight with Dr. King years ago, but the glory days of black activism and social unity are behind us. It will take a new generation of leaders to revive the spirit that existed back then.

  2. Rev. Sharpton & Jackson are there when the cameras are on. But they are not in the trenches. Honestly, they are too old to get their hands dirty with the real issues. New leadership will have to come from the people. We as blacks complain about the lack of leadership in our community, but a lot of us are afraid to do our parts. Part of the fear stems from knowing that many of our past leaders were killed. So we don’t want to put ourselves in that position. I think if we as a community come together to make the necessary changes in OUR community first, then those leaders of the future will will rise out of that. If we keep waiting for that person to show up first to galvanize us, then we will be waiting a long time.

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