Thursday, February 16, 2006

Black History Month - Top Black Leaders

I just read, with interest the results of a AP poll that asked a slelect number of African-Americans to gauge who is the most important leader in the African-American community today. The results of the poll were quite interesting:

  1. Jesse Jackson - 15%
  2. Condoleeza Rice - 11%
  3. Colon Powell - 8%
  4. Barack Obama - 6%
  5. Louis Farrakhan - 4%
  6. Oprah Winfrey - 3%
  7. Martin Luther King - 3% (deceased)
  8. Al Sharpton - 2%

When you look at these results, you can not help but to come to a few quick assumptions:

  • No one even came close to 25% of the vote
  • There is still a wide range of opinion of who is really leading the black community today, in the absense of almost 40 years of a powerful, and forceful leader like Martin Luther King.
  • There is really no one person that represents the African-American community at large.
  • People chose personalities that they recognize on a daily basis.

The bigger question that I would ask would be whether the people that I just mentioned are actually "leading". My definition of a leader is someone through the depth and breath of their convictions has the courage to challenge the status quo and the mindset of the people that really want to follow you. I think all of these people lead in different ways. However, the one that I really think that tried his best to lead was Colon Powell. He tried to at least get President Bush to rethink his war strategy before he got muted by the rest of the administration. For his efforts, he resigned. He handled being ignored by Bush with grace. He always leaves a positive impression with me. It does not really matter if he is Republican or not.

I think that the real leaders of any community are the people who you do not see on television or hear on the radio. These are the fathers and mothers who help their children with their homework. The school crossing guards that watch out for your children as they are walking to school. The teachers that struggle to teach inner-city children who come fromn difficult circumstances and are paid very little for their efforts. There are the oridnary people who rely on the word of God to lead them, not a social program. I think that when you look around you there are leaders everywhere. You don't have to strain to find them. They may be sitting next to them on the bus going to work or eating in Duncan Donuts!

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