Do We Still Need Leaders In The 21st Century????

Written by on September 21, 2016


A few weeks ago in Milwaukee, we had a riot that resulted in some businesses being set on fire. The next day in those neighborhoods it looked as if a small tornado struck the block. What did the people in that community do? They assembled the next morning and cleaned it up. They did what had to be done in order to take the first steps to healing. It wasn’t a matter of waiting for someone to get on TV to hype the masses to get into action, the community assumed the role of leaders and got things done. That is what’s needed in the Black community. We can’t sit here and wait for the next charismatic leader to drop from the heavens, we must do for self, right now.

Over the past 150 years or so we had many African-American leaders who stepped forward in our hours of despair.  However, sometime after the assassination of Dr. King, the leaders have been few and far between. Some of us don’t even count Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and Al Sharpton. We just sit on the sidelines complaining asking the question…. Where are our leaders?

Well, let me ask this, where are the Jewish leaders? Where are the White leaders? Where are the Asian leaders? In fact, if you perform a Google on White leaders nothing comes up other than the 100 most influential Americans in history. What are we missing here? Other groups do not need leaders to make things happen in their community.

Other communities have somehow figured out how to achieve things without the help of a handful of people. The African American’s dependence on a leader the likes of Malcolm X or MLK has been our training wheels. We are so busy looking out the windows for another messiah that we have missed the jewels that the previous leaders have already given us, the knowledge of doing for self.

We have everything we need to lead our families, neighborhoods, churches, and communities to a better life. Our main problem, however, is our reluctance to do for self. It is time for African-Americans to realize that A) A savior is not coming who will be the single catalyst that leads us to all of the answers concerning us. B) If each community/neighborhood takes care of self we as a whole will be better.

Black leadership in the 21st century has to change. Instead of one or a group of individuals being the voice box for the people, every one of us needs to carry the weight. We can no longer afford to centralize our movement so that one person has the burden of addressing every educational, social, and economic problem that Black people face. The issues of a middle-class family in Atlanta is different than a lower economical single parent in Chicago. Different strokes for different folks.

It is time for us to play our part in various small silos. Come together when the time is right for common problems, but do our part nonetheless. Martin Luther King Jr the second coming most likely isn’t going to come down the street anytime soon. True if a leader comes from the people who is strong enough to handle the weight so be it. However, we must stop looking at the clouds for our savior and look in the mirror for the power that is within each and every one of us. Power to the people shouldn’t just be a popular slogan from years gone by, it should be a way of life.

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