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A cry for attention is not leadership

“[T]he function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

– Ralph Nader (Even a broken clock is sometimes right.)

You don’t normally pick up Jet Magazine and expect to find something incisive. But the Jan. 31 issue surprised me – though inadvertently – with an anonymously authored article titled, “Civil Rights Groups: Why They’re Essential Today.”

What “Anonymous” tried to do was to profile five current civil-rights groups who were also prominent in the ’60s, with the hope of showing just how relevant they still are.

What “Anonymous” actually profiles is a cry for attention. The responses of these organizations’ leaders are amazing in their uniformity – all five essentially get down on their hands and knees and beg for attention.

Take National Urban League President Mark H. Morial, who has this to say:

I think civil-rights organizations are very important, but have the new challenge of reaching out to the younger professionals as well as the hiphop generation. We have to reach out to them so they can gain a better understanding of the history that created the opportunities that many of them enjoy today.

Translated: “Groups like ours are important because we explain to people why we were once important so they might think that we are still important so that we, in turn, can still feel like we’re important.”

Wait. It gets better.

Julian Bond, Board Chairman of the NAACP, “is in agreement with Morial when he states that a number of blacks, both young and old, tend to make the mistake of thinking the struggle for civil rights is over.” Says Bond:

We know that there is a large body of opinion in America that says that racial discrimination isn’t the problem anymore … [but] we know that it’s still a pervasive problem affecting every black American no matter how wealthy or how poor, and we’re determined to root it out.

This statement seems to say that many blacks are too dumb to notice a problem so horrendous that it affects every one of them – pervasively. Read between the lines. Bond is indignant that instead of coming to his organization whimpering, blacks have opted to reject excuses. Imagine.

Meanwhile, Southern Christian Leadership Council President Charles Steele is nearly hysterical. “We are relevant,” he insists; “we are pregnant [with causes] and we are prevalent.” In fact, the SCLC is neither relevant nor prevalent (when was the last time you heard from the SCLC?) and this is because their causes apply to a world 50 years past.

For his part, Al Sharpton notes that his National Action Network exists “because it’s only a matter of time before it comes to your job, or your door, or your car being pulled over.” Apparently he’s being serious (the article does not explicitly confirm), in which case enough said.

The article also discusses Jesse Jackson, who somehow has become so irrelevant that nothing in his profile is worth attention.

If these men were not so wicked, their railings of “We’re important!” and “We’re relevant!” would be sad.

Fortunately, they and their groups are now irrelevant. This is in part their own doing. None of these men were ever real leaders to begin with. Their goal is not to set people free, but to keep them weak and dependent. It’s no accident their usefulness wore out and they’ve been confined to the periphery of the lives of most hard-working black Americans.

More and more blacks are now aware of their poisonous message of racism, hopelessness, and hatred.

Blacks don’t need leaders, and haven’t for decades. No man or woman needs a leader – hard work and responsibility are sufficient. Meanwhile, black youth – like all youth – need little more than strong moral examples in their families and communities.

To this end, my organization, BOND, is co-sponsoring a conference with the Heritage Foundation titled, “Responding to the Call: The New Black Vanguard Conference,” tomorrow in Washington, D.C. This historic conference will address the problems of moral and physical destruction in America’s inner cities and respond to the attacks on black heroes like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Justice Clarence Thomas. It will lay out solutions that all blacks can pursue for themselves – without help from any leader. The conference will abide by the true purpose of leadership: to create more leaders, not followers.

The era of wicked and useless black leadership is thankfully waning, and a new day of true freedom is on the horizon. That’s beautiful news for black American … with several obvious exceptions of course!