Leadership Concepts and the duality of Black Women
Leadership has historically been a title and position held for the wealthy, the male sex, and the Anglo in America. Reasons for this range from self proclaimed God right and the enslavement of a large portion of America’s inhabitants. For the African-American male in America, the rise to leadership has been a tremendous struggle; though he has overcome may obstacles. College educations, determination, and martyrdom trail blazed the rise of African-American male leaders. The path to leadership for the African American women was fought on two different fronts. One front was the battle for racial equality, and the other was women’s rights and suffrage. Those issues were two of the largest civil right issues in American history. The mere fact that African-American women tore down each wall of intolerance and have taken many roles in leadership is a testament to the strength and character of the African American Woman. Without the power of language, emotional intelligence, relationship building, and systems thinking the African American women leaders would not have become a factor in the American leadership arena of the past and present.
A leader is a facilitator of relationships. He or she uses those relationships to bring people together for a common purpose. From the introduction of the African to America the women were taken and separated from family and sexually oppressed during slavery. Without being able to nurture and facilitate the relationships around her, they had no place in leadership. It wasn’t until centuries later did African-American women participate in something that took a group effort and leadership techniques. African American women played a key role in the Suffrage Movement. It was a social, economic and political reform movement aimed at extending the suffrage, which is the right to vote, to women, advocating equal suffrage rather than universal suffrage, which is the abolition of all discrimination, in a time where race relations was a radical subject. An African American woman by the name of Elizabeth Caddy Stanton was a leader in the movement. She used social distancing to help her cause. As noted by author Penn, “Stanton was not only an abolitionist and suffragist, but was a key leader in her community by establishing relationships with Black and White reformers” (Penn, 1998). Social distancing is used by and used on leaders in all sectors. To appear closer to a person of importance or power, raises the appearance of your importance and makes you more relevant to your followers. An important art for a leader to master, is the art of organization. Margaret Wheatley affirmed that, “the process of organizing involves developing relationships from a shared sense of purpose, exchanging and creating information, learning constantly, paying attention to the results of our efforts, co-adapting, co-evolving, developing wisdom as we learn” (Wheatley). A plan or idea without organization is doomed to survive the chaos of unknown obstacles. But to bring organization to a plan or group of people the facilitator must create a safe place. The safe place must include: Confidential dialogue, non- judgmental environment, understanding environment, environment that adds value and understanding. When this safe place of creativity is in place emotion and fear to innovate are set aside, and a collision of positive organization takes place. In 1840 The World's Anti-Slavery Convention was held in London, England. When the women delegates from the United States were not allowed to participate, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton determine to have a women's rights convention when they return home (Mott, 2001). At this time African-Americans were in captivity. They were slaves in the mind and in the body, so the political activity of African American’s at that point was minimal. Small revolts and acts of arson to the master’s home and barns...
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