By Roy Douglas Malonson
“We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the era I was brought up in, leadership meant something. Back then, mostly everybody in the community respected the leaders in the Black community. Although there was much respect for them, being in a leadership position was not a role most Black folks wanted to aspire to.
We all knew strong Black leadership was needed to overcome the many challenges we faced, however, it was not an easy role. Standing at the front of the line, was sure to make you a target and we were already born with a target on us, as it was (Blackness). So, NO! Not many people were willing to selflessly give of themselves, knowing the grave consequences for doing so.
Being a leader during the days of slavery and oppression was a hell of a task; the same is true for leaders who led in the Jim Crow dispensation and as we moved into a segregated era, the trend continued. Thus, any person regardless of gender who stood up at the defense of equality for Blacks HAD to be one whose only mission was, “justice” and one who had a genuine love for “humanity”.
But things have changed. As a result of the price that was paid by many of our leaders of old, many things have improved for, we Africans living in America. Consequently, many of the old leaders and martyrs of yesterday, such as Dr. King are elevated on a pedestal during our present-day.
However, when they walked the land amongst us, that was not the position they were in. Even in our own community, there were those who didn’t respect their vision or fully support them in the endeavors they pursued, which was to further the Black community and secure equal rights and justice for us. But, outside of the Black community, our leaders were scorned, beaten, imprisoned, falsely accused, disrespected and ridiculed, among many other things. Nevertheless, they stayed the course and paid the ultimate price – some laying down their lives’.
But, today what we have in the form of leadership are those who have come up thinking that leadership entitles them glamour, money, a lavish lifestyle and status. That is not the case. There is a big difference between the type of leadership Dr. King spoke about and demonstrated and what we have today.
In fact, in many instances a lot of today’s leaders wouldn’t be leaders at all – if they were not getting paid to do so. You see, in true leadership the first investment and many more thereafter come from the leader. When a person is an authentic leader, no amount of money in the world will ever satisfy them for the work they do, because you can’t put a price tag on someone who has a love for “humanity” and a mission to achieve “justice”.
Concluding, in this Special “MLK” Edition, I would like to urge our Black leaders to examine your mission and objective and make sure you are not working for the people for a cost. Because true leadership can’t be bought or paid for.