Professor Hebert Johnson
AFR-121
3-2-1 Exercise: Black Leadership In The Twenty-First Century-Donald Cunningen


3 Things I Learned:

1. According to the article “Black Leadership In The Twenty-First Century” written by Donald Cunnigen I learned that at the time of the Katrina disaster, New Orleans was
a city defined by several decades of black leadership. More precisely, an original black leadership at the highest level derived from various elements of the descendants of an elite “Creole of Color” community that still is a distinct identifiable group within a southern city that has always prided itself on its diversity. Beginning with Ernest “Dutch” Morial, serving 1978-1986, the Crescent City’s black community developed into a powerful political force. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s onslaught, blacks were found in all aspects of city government, including the offices of mayor, city council (3 of 7 members), police chief, district attorney, judiciary, and other areas of city government. This leadership was complemented by national political figures such as Representative William Jefferson. The 67percent black population made such political gains a reality. (Black Leadership In The Twenty-First Century, Cunnigen, pg.25)

2. Also, what I learned that was based on this article was that the idea of black leaders, particularly “a” black leader, has been a part of the black American social discourse throughout American history. In 1903, W.E.B. DuBois wrote an interesting commentary regarding black leadership. He suggested that the black community would be saved by its exceptional men and women. He believed the best of the race would guide the masses.
This view of the exceptional leaders within the community was a part of his “Talented Tenth” approach to black leadership. Although DuBois’ notion of the enlightened
intellectual was a sophisticated combination of training and transcendence of racial structures, his idea that black leaders should exhibit the best in the community has been viewed by some observers as an elitist approach to leadership. (Black Leadership In The Twenty-First Century, pg.26)

3.Finally, the last thing I learned that was mentioned in the article was during the changing face of black America is resulting in changes regarding how race is discussed within the nation. Black Americans with ancestors from the middle passage, to a lesser degree of Caribbean ancestry, have a historical slave legacy of American racism through which they filter their discussions on race. This history includes the Dred Scott decision, Missouri Compromise, Black Codes, Civil War, Plessy v. Ferguson, de facto and de jure segregation, and a host of elements related to cultural and institutional racism that has become embedded deeply in American life. On the other hand, black Americans arriving directly from the twenty-first century Africa have a historical colonial legacy of
European racism. For both groups, the historical legacy is one of historical memory transferred from one generation to another. Although Jonathan Kozol’s descriptions
of the stultifying racist segregation of contemporary urban schools suggests a new pattern of discrimination based on race and social class, very few, if any, young black people have any direct experiences with the oppressive segregation or colonialism of earlier generations. Yet the impact of these institutional dynamics continues to have some consequences on their lives. The earnings disparities between blacks and whites have historical antecedents as well as contemporary social consequences. Lack of access to adequate medical care, insurance, quality education, and a host of other social factors may be connected dimensions of a history of racial prejudice and discrimination. Some scholars would argue that America’s failure to correct those problems in contemporary life is due to the persistence of this prejudice and discrimination in modern life. (Black Leadership In The Twenty-First Century, Cunnigen, pg27-28)

2 Things I Already Knew:

1. According to the article, Cunnigen explains how for years, the New Orleans Public Schools have been havens for crime, low academic performance, and mismanagement. Like many urban school districts across the nation, it faced the task of educating a huge population of children of color, especially blacks, who came to school with a multiplicity of social problems. With very limited financial resources and an antiquated physical structure, the public schools were facing their own disaster long before the hurricane. Many of the problems were beyond the capabilities of educators to control or alter; yet, these problems had a major impact on the capacity of educators to adequately perform