New Leaders for Black Community as Older Blacks Who Sparked the Civil Rights Revolution Depart, Younger African Americans Assume Prominence

Article excerpt

THEY are men and women who, by and large, never experienced Jim Crow segregation first-hand. Some of them may not even have encountered racial discrimination in its blatant forms. Now in their 30s and early 40s, these successful black people came of age in an America very different from the land known to their parents and grandparents.

They are the beneficiaries of the civil rights revolution achieved by a generation of remarkable black leaders, sung and unsung. While the battle for full legal rights for blacks (and other minorities) in America certainly goes on, the distinctive "civil rights era" is past, and most of its prominent leaders either have left the scene or are nearing retirement.

As a result, a kind of changing of the guard is taking place in black leadership in the United States. Across the nation - in politics and pulpits, in companies and community organizations, on college faculties and in the media - a new generation of African-Americans is emerging in positions of authority.

Many of them are highly educated, and they have enjoyed (and taken advantage of) opportunities that their elders could hardly imagine. …