Eddie Glaude Jr. welcomed back home with open minds

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Pam Junior and Eddie Glaude Jr. (Photo: Jay D. Johnson)

New York Times bestselling author Eddie Glaude Jr. returned to his native Mississippi for more than a book signing of his latest offering,  “We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For”.

In a comfortable living room like setting at the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, April 4, which marked the 56th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the preeminent scholar sat down with historian Pam Junior and engaged in an intimate conversation about how everyday people can become pivotal leaders in their communities.

 Glaude dove right in after getting the cue from Junior to share his thoughts on generational Black leadership. “At this point in my life I am looking back in order to look forward.  I’m looking back to see how our grassroots leaders, organizers, politicians, and philosophers of our past have influenced me to the point of how they have influenced my thinking about the future of America and its democracy in the pursuit of life, liberty, and justice.”

 In “We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For,” Glaude is looking at the interpretations of the works, activities, and writings of Black leaders with a focus on Martin Luther King,Jr., Malcolm X, and Ella Baker. He makes the case that the hard work of becoming a better person should be a critical feature of Black politics. To a greater extent, ordinary everyday people can be the leaders like the aforementioned historic figures. Arguably, they too could be considered “ordinary” before being placed on the landscape of causes that have led to monumental social and political movements. 

Glaude went on to say that if we as a people are to truly be free we can not allow the traditions and methods used in the past to affect our plight in the future. That as the country moves into a more divided and violent society, it will utilize and manipulate non-discrimination laws to boomerang us back to enslavement.

Junior chose not to have a rigorous back and forth with Glaude, but rather give his words time to permeate the minds of those gathered for that intended purpose — words to grow by. 

Glaude concludes that we, the ordinary people, can’t be truly free unless we look inward to see the intestinal fortitude and strength and willingness to become the leaders of today that we want and need to see in order to make a better society. We must not take our marching orders from the pulpit of religious leaders but rather from the pews of our own discernment as to what Black political dissent looks like today through the lens of young people who are and will become leaders of this democracy if it is to survive.

Glaude is the author of several books, including “Democracy in Black” and the New York Times bestseller “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own,” winner of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Book Prize. He frequently appears in the media as an MSNBC contributor on programs like Morning Joe and Deadline: White House

A native of Moss Point, Mississippi, Glaude is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Princeton University.

With a release date of April 16, “We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For” is being sold at the Civil Rights Museum bookstore and can be purchased online at the usual outlets.

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Eddie Glaude Jr. welcomed back home with open minds

By Brinda Fuller Willis
April 14, 2024