Negro Leadership Types
It may be useful to present some specific examples illustrative of the several types of Negro leadership outlined in the preceding chapter. The illustrations presented in the pages following are based upon interview materials gleaned from the field notes. The interviews were on the basis of a purely random selection. It must be emphasized here that the classification of these types has absolutely no reference to personality. The basis for classification is solely the expressed (or exposed) attitude or the conduct of the individual leader. This is considered, for our purpose, of greater importance than the individual himself.
There is an almost universal tendency among Negroes to declare that Negro leadership is “bad.” It is common practice to ascribe many of the ills of the race to the lack of competent leadership. That leadership is often condemned as incompetent, selfish, dishonest, venal, treacherous and corrupt. Hope for the future is often predicated upon the possibility of developing a “new and better leadership.” This is not a Negro trait, however, for it is common in America to relate social problems to the quality of leadership. It is not unusual for liberals in the South today, for example, to place the burden for the major share of the South's distress upon the incompetence and corruptness of its political leadership. Presidential campaigns are fought out often on the American slogan concerning the danger of “changing horses in the middle of the stream.” Despite the fact that Negro leaders are legion, the Negro race, in this country, lacks any real leadership, in the sense of an ability to influence the thinking or conduct of large numbers of Negroes. There are no real ideological leaders. There are no effective organizational leaders. This despite the fact that Dr. Du Bois has for years preached his own brand of ideology, as have men like Randolph. But their audience has been limited and there has been no movement behind them. They have operated only