Dominoes Episode Thirty

Charley was looking forward to exploring with the interns the first discussion on the believer’s network. He was anxious to see what he could learn from them.

“I want to start today by giving you a quiz,” Charley began. “Would you write down what you know about the following people: Dorothy Height, Anna Hedgeman, Septima Clark, Amelia Robinson, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Pauli Murray, Mamie Mobley, Claudette Colvin, Maude Ballou, and Diane Nash?”

Charley was silent for five minutes. There was an embarrassing silence from the interns as well. No one was writing anything. “Get out your phones,” Charley said to break the silence. “I’m going to ask each of you to look up a different name and capture some information about each of these women.”

After the interns had an opportunity to do their online search, he asked them to give a 3-minute biographical sketch of each woman. As the presentations unfolded, it became clear that each of the women had played a key role in the Civil Rights movement but were little known today.

Charley then asked: “What does this tell you?” The answers were revealing.

  • “It takes all types of people to initiate and sustain a difference making effort.”
  • “Making a difference can’t be a top-down effort. It has to allow for individual initiatives at a grass-roots level. Trying to control them will be self-destructive.”
  • “There is a public face for making a difference, but those working behind the scenes are also critical.”
  • “Ego driven people, fighting for acclaim, can be destructive when trying to make a difference.”

 Once again, Charley was impressed by how perceptive the interns were in thinking about the people they would need to enlist in their cause. “We think of difference makers as the charismatic leader like Martin Luther King, Jr, and certainly they are essential. You will need to ask yourself if that’s you. It’s ok if that isn’t your strength because there are other roles you might play.”

 “Another role is one of being a strategic leader where you care little about fame. You would prefer to be the thoughtful person who thinks about change and how to sustain it. I suspect that some of you may be more comfortable in this role.”

 “Then there is the support leader whose role it is to ensure that the cause is supported by careful planning, logistics support, public relations, fund raining, and all of the day-to-day activities that are necessary to make the cause become sustainable. Is this a role for you?”

 “One more thing. Those you choose to join you need to have a personal character that balances passion with patience, authority with openness to other’s ideas, and a strong sense of purpose with constructive self-doubt.”

 Charley ended the session by asking each of the interns to identify the leadership role that best fits them as well as names (if known) of others they would like to join in their cause. “This may be the most important decision you have to make if you are to fulfill the difference you are striving to achieve,” Charley explained. “But you can’t force your decision. There will come a time when you will find partners who just feel right. This is a decision where your judgement and intuition must rule over any form of analytical reasoning.”

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“Equal partnerships are not made in heaven – they are made on earth, one choice at a time, one conversation at a time, one threshold crossing at a time.” – Bruce Hafen (Attorney and religious leader)

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