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Dropping the Leadership Baton

By Julianne Malveaux NNPA Columnist | 8/16/2013, 6 a.m.

Who are the people who will come behind you?  Who will incorporate your work into their own? Who will understand that you put your hand on them because somebody put their hand on you, and who will feel obligated to put their hand on others?

The civil rights generation made massive progress, but in many ways they dropped the ball.  While they made it clear that there was work to be done, too many of them did not choose those who would do it.  Too much energy and focus has been placed on one or two people, and we need cohorts of the next generation to work together.

My Baby Boom generation has dropped the ball as well.  We have been beneficiaries of the Civil Rights Movement, but we have not passed our largess or our lessons on.  The Baby Boom generation has been, in many ways, one of the most economically privileged generations of African American progress.  So why do so many of us, who enjoy the legacy of this progress, fail to recognize the people and organizations that have brought us to this place.

Rev. Willie Barrow says that we are not as much divided as disconnected.  When the baton has been dropped, what can we expect but a generational disconnection?

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.