Seattle’s Black Community: Who Are Our Leaders?
NOTE TO READERS:
Particularly those coming over from the Seattle Times via the comments thread on the Monfort story. You’ve got more SV reading to do, as MANY of you have taken the post below WELL out of context. Try this one for some perspective: http://wp.me/pe0ol-1lz
Back in the Day…
It used to be that, in any given city one only had to so far as the Black church to find the person everyone considered a “leader” of the Black community- the Pastor. There’s a reason for this, of course. During the civil rights movement, the Church was a cornerstone. Churches were more than just meeting places, it is where people gathered the strength and courage to fight for equality.
The church usually intersected in some way with a civil rights organization, whether the NAACP, the SCLC or another.
During the movement, staying “on message” was critical. Everyone had to say the same thing in order to deliver a strong message. Spokespeople were often elected/appointed. For the most part it worked of course, but because of that the status quo believes today that if there is diversity of opinion amongst Black people, it’s somehow counterproductive or negative, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
What defines a leader? Is it simply the professional position they hold? James Kelly is head of the League, does that make him a certified leader of the Black community? Does that mean he speaks for you and I, and that we are automatically comfortable with whatever position he might take on an issue?
The relevance and effectiveness of the NAACP could be debated until the cows come home, but the question is, is the organization, it’s local or national president a leader?
And what of the church? Years ago there were less than a handful. Now there are churches everywhere, and they’re spread out across the county, as Seattle’s Black population has migrated south and north. Really all one needs to head a church is to be ordained, heck I can do that online in 5 minutes. Does that make me a leader of the Black community?
These questions should not be considered a slight, nor are they intended to diminish the contributions these and others have made.
What about at the national level? Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton consider themselves to be national leaders of the Black community- but are they really? Is anyone else?
Let’s talk about it.
Who are the leaders of/in the Black community in your opinion? Who do you not consider a leader?
Has the need for leadership dimmed with the advances the civil rights movement has given us?
Who speaks for “us” Or do we speak for ourselves?
I want to hear from you.