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Black America Today Debate: Leadership Models
Hugh B. Price, National Urban League Hugh B. Price, National Urban League Robert L. Woodson, Sr. National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise Robert L. Woodson, Sr. National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

In Race Matters, Cornel West writes of a crisis in African-American leadership. Other commentators bemoan the presence of media role models centered around entertainment and sports figures. Is there a need for a new African-American leadership model? And if so, what is it?

Robert Woodson's Response: Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Deputy Attorney General Larry Armstrong, Deputy HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, Deputy Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Leo McKay are all excellent leadership models.

Hugh Price's Rebuttal: A major challenge is convincing youngsters that people who live in the "real world" right before their eyes are role models and leaders as well. To be realistic, few people will have the combination of ability, drive and, yes, luck to ascend to the heights of politics or professional sports. So we must convince them that therešs dignity in leadership and service closer to home where they have a reasonable shot at becoming players. So in addition gazing admiringly at national leaders, we need to tout effective school principals and operators of solid after-school programs as role models and leaders, too. Those individuals can have a huge impact on the lives of young people and communities.

Hugh Price's Response: In point of fact, a new African-American leadership model has been in place for quite a while as blacks have begun to penetrate and excel in many walks of life. There's less reliance on waiting for a Messiah to part the waters and lead us to the promise land. Celebrities get lots of coverage, but few are perceived as leaders or role models. I'm persuaded that a real-world paradigm has already emerged.

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Debate Topics Menu
Affirmative Action
Diversity in Schools
Economic Future
Faith Based Initiatives
Knowing Each Other
Leadership Models
Media Stereotypes
Political Power
Race in the 21st Century
Slavery Reparations


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