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So listen, you guys know sometimes how things can be right in your face and you don’t know about it, right?  I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for the show yesterday.  I was talking to your producers and I said, what am I going to do?  And I took my dog out for a walk, and you know what street I live on up in Harlem.  It’s Fredrick Douglas Boulevard.  Then we walked across the Adam Clayton Powell cross there…

So that’s what I want to talk to you guys about on my first day here on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.  I want to talk to you about leaders.  Leadership.  Specifically black leaders.  I want to talk about who they are really these days, but more importantly I want to talk to you and ask the question about the ones that we have, are they relevant?  Do they help or hurt, not just black people, but society as a whole.  Have you ever thought about that?  Who are the black leaders?  Whoever your black leader might be.

That’s one of the biggest differences, I believe, between our leaders of today and the leaders who came out of the struggle.  The ones who came out of the struggle, they wanted us to question everything, even then.  Dr. King said you should question everything.  And the ones we have today, do they do that?  I’ll let you decide for yourself.  But could they possibly be keeping us from advancing as individuals and collectively as a people because they have a stake in our thinking remaining the same stagnant?

Might some of them be keeping us from evolving because of their idea of Dr. King’s dream hasn’t evolved past 1963.  Now I would venture to guess that if Dr. King were still alive his dream in 2013 would’ve evolved and changed into a bigger and better version of the one that he had 50 years ago.  And the strategy to realize that dream would’ve evolved change expanded over the past 50 years as well.  And I wholeheartedly believe that just as Dr. King aligned himself with black power brokers and cultural influences of the 1960s, the unions, the churches, the preachers, and as Tom schooled me a couple of weeks ago, the radio hosts, the DJ’s.


DON LEMON:  I think he would do the same thing with the black cultural influences of today.  And who do you think that is?

TOM JOYNER:  Tell me.

DON LEMON:  Any idea? That’s our young artists like Jay-Z.  Like Kanye West.

TOM JOYNER:  Good point.

DON LEMON:  Like Pharrell, like Frank Ocean.  Why am I so sure about that?  I want you to ask yourself the last time you heard a young person walking around singing a church hymn?

Because just yesterday, just yesterday, I’m walking on St. Nicholas Avenue, two separate young men were singing a French Montana rap song:  N- Ain’t worried about nothing.  You know that song?  N- Ain’t worried about nothing, right?  They actually say the word.  They’re walking with their headphones on, their screaming on St. Nicholas Avenue.

So that’s why in my work as a journalist, I constantly challenge and urge the rap, Hip-Hop and music powerbrokers to step on to the stage of positive influence and into the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, because whether they realize it or not they are the new breed, they are the new black leaders.  They are the influences of our time.  And I don’t mean that I challenge them in a negative way.  I mean that in the best possible way, that their names can too be one day be worthy of boulevards, and avenues, and streets.

Yep, you Waka Flocka, Gucci Mane, you TI, Luda can be the next Harry Belafonte of the struggle.  Beyoncé, Rihanna, you can be the next Lena Horne or Mahalia Jackson; of course, in your own way.

Jamie Foxx, you guys saw Jamie Foxx at the March on Washington last week. He got it right.  You guys are the guys who replaced old heads.  You are the relevant ones right now.  And you know why?  Because unlike some of the black leaders who get so much criticism today, your livelihood as artists doesn’t depend on keeping people thinking the same way they did half a century ago.

Your art signifies that one of the great minds of our times were Christopher Hitchens said, “One of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority.”  The Bible even says “test everything, hold on to God.”  Thomas Jefferson said, “question with boldness even the existence of a god.”  Buddha said, “Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.”

We must question everything including our leaders and especially ourselves. So here’s my challenge for you today on my first day here, even if it’s just for today, to question what you think you know.  To take the exact opposite position that you would normally take in a conversation or discussion even if it’s about race, whatever it is.  And see where that leads you.  Become curious today instead of judgmental.  And in the process you might just change your mind.

30 thoughts on “Don Lemon Calls Out the Stars: Will the Real Leaders Please Stand Up?

  1. At this time it appears like WordPress is the top blogging platform out there right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  2. Entertainers are suppose to be our leaders?? Are you serious?? It is time for everybody to lead themselves and their families. Did you not see what Gangster rap did to the black community, along with the guns, drugs and welfare??? I am 48 years old. I don’t want to hear shit about Jay-Z and Kanye West crazy ass. It looks to me like you are on the outside looking in.

  3. Question the ‘Belief System’ that was given us to replace the one we had.( which was better)
    Question the culture that is plummeting and taking us with it.
    Question the origination of the bible (It didn’t fall from heaven into mans hands)
    Question the 16 ‘Saviors’ before Jesus (read about it)
    Question who you are, how you got here and what is now happening to you as a people
    Question = READ

  4. Sexy Leroy on said:

    “Stars” are not leaders. They are not in the biz for that. We dont need black leaders- we need a leader for the country. I have accomplished what I have accomplished because of me and the opportunities that exist FOR ALL in this country. Lemon has no clue. Any so-called leader of the day, was not a “star”, and Harry Belafonte is NO LEADER.

  5. The united states declared their independence from England, made their own rules, lived the way they wanted to live, not the way somebody told them to… black people, it is time to declare your independence and start relying on yourselves… it take a lot of hard work and sacrifice but it is so worth it.

  6. Rappers cannot be leaders . ask Public Enemy about that . I always ask myself the same question because when I was growing up we had MLK, Angela Davis, Bobby Seal, Malcolm X, Huey P Newton,Nobody today meets the standards they set back in the day ,so the question remains who will fill the shoes of these Great Leaders of the past . Mr Lemon should read the history books on what happened to The Leadership of the Black Panthers of the 60’s ? one hint J Edgar Hoover .

  7. Very well said! You give a voice that needs to be heard. You aren’t afraid of the negative feedback. People don’t like to hear the truth and that is sad because we shouldn’t want to hear a lie or be deceived. Keep doing what you’re doing. You are becoming a leader of the black community.

  8. You want leaders? You got leaders…. Dr. Benjamin Carson, Herman Cain, Mia Love, Crystal Wright,Francesca Chambers, Chelsi Henry, Sonnie Johnson, Artur Davis, Tim Scott, T.W. Shannon, Allen West, and Wayne Dupree. These people are promoting the real message of change. There are black leaders, Mr. Lemon… are you willing to open your mind or are you too stuck in your ways like aging white men you so despise?

  9. Wow! Before I could complete my comment, the folks of Black America Web pulled it. Could it be due to my criticism of TJ? What kind of open forum censors contrary comments? What kind of person(s) are so controlling that they refuse to accept good constructive criticism?

  10. That is a horrible Idea, The last thing our people need is to follow one of these self indulgent morons. in today’s’ society the artist is only concerned about themselves. they are in no mental state to deal with the reality of the needs or our people. Get real! If you really want to hear from a black leader who is not a corporate puppet, and who has no agenda except the betterment of our nation, Dr. Claude Anderson is the man. He has been in law, he has been in business and his morals are impeccable. He is an accomplished author and historian as well. He is well spoken and does not embarrass us when there is a camera present. If your really serious look him up. I would pay for that like a pay per view show..

  11. We are all leaders. There are people who are doing wondrous things in the community for our young people but we never hear about them.The college students who sat at that luncheonette in the 50’s(watch the movie “The Butler”) did not wait for a Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson in your face type of individual to do what they felt needed to be done. Nobody talks about their heroism and courage. Who knows their names? They nevertheless stepped up big time!!! Why do black folks have to wait for some famous personality to step up? Who was the leader that got the McDonald’s workers to walk out? Can I get a name? In the 60s and 70’s there were many songs that spoke of pride and consciousness. Gamble & Huff writing team,”Money, Money, Money” by the O’Jays, “Make Me Wanna Holler’ by Marvin Gaye, “Say it Loud,I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown,”Tryin Times” by Roberta Flack, “Wake Up Everybody”by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes”,”One Love”by Bob Marley, “Stand” by Sly and the Family Stone”,”Living for the City” and “Big Brother” by Stevie Wonder. No one had to call them out. No one had to tell them to write or record these songs. It was in their blood, it was their self chosen missionTheir music WAS their weapon as Fela Kuti would say. The artists today can not be forced to feel a sense of purpose or mission. Either they have it or they don’t! Shaming them into standing up is useless. If they stand up because of pressure from others after all of this time, then it would be hypocritical at best.

    • I agree. Although I give props to those blacks like Jesse, Sharpton,Joyner, and many others who are doing more than most of us. We all should be leaders. I hate those people who degrade black causes YET they are doing NOTHING.

  12. Rossi love on said:

    We have to focus on our people first. We as a black nation are used for everybody else to come up. Whenever we plan to take care of our own we are called angry black men or even racist, which by the way is impossible because we don’t own enough of anything to hold someone back. My problem with the old guard is that they wanted us to try and be apart of someone who doesn’t want us.
    The dominant society is only interested in what money we have or how they can make money off of us. As long as we are all divided they can continue to keep it that way. That is why there are conservatives. They want to conserve the dominate way of life. Currently, the black nation owns nothing. Now before you start to judge me, understand first of all, I am not angry. I am just very disappointed. It is like we are all driven to be selfish, to only look out for you and yours. This is not the way of our people. We have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten about our strong family values.
    I don’t think there is a rapper out there who I would consider a leader in this new generation. We can not be lead by young men who have not been raised properly. I am not trying to be disrespectful, but be real. Today’s rapper is the most selfish person on the planet. Every song is about them. This is an issue of great importance and it needs to be addressed by serious thought provoking Men of our nation. Great men like Dr. Claude Anderson. If you were serious you would have to include him. He has a plan to help us and he has been at almost every level of government. He knows there tricks and tactics. He is honest, and he has enough money that he doesn’t want to steal yours. Most of all he loves the black nation.

    • Blacks need to stop accepting government “hand-outs.” They need to stand on their own 2 feet, rely on each other, come together as a community and take care of each other. Grow gardens, plant fruit bearing trees, help with child-care, get rid of the drug dealers in their communities, stop buying drugs… there are a litany of things blacks can do to improve their station in life…value education, turn off the tv and do homework, have family time….the list goes on and on… of course, it’s so much easier to blame someone else, isn’t it. And that’s why things will never, ever change for the black community. You like the free checks, the free food, the free housing, the free healthcare… stop taking the free stuff… it makes you weak.

      • Dems would sh)T a brick if blacks stop taking hand outs and became self sufficient and independent… talk about radical thinking… independent black communities… dig it.

  13. One of the main reasons that (some) young people of today aren’t into addressing, and ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING TANGIBLE TO HELP is because they haven’t had to deal with the depth of struggle that Black people had to contend with 50 years ago, and before. I’ve often said that anyone that’s complaining about BS today needs to shut the H up because they really don’t have a clue. And believe me most of the stuff people complain about today is BS in the bigger realm of things, and when compared to what our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents went through!!!

    • charles mason on said:

      Thanks, Joy… But Don Lemon needs to tell Frank Ocean to stop being a bully-wearing a shirt, warning people about Chris Brown. If Chris calls Frank a f**ggot, he wouldn’t like that.

  14. Janet Kenney on said:

    Alrighty… Don Lemon seems to be Tom Joyner’s long anticipated answer to really replacing Tavis Smiley– a voice that wasn’t truly filled when Smiley resigned in 2008. Roland Martin tried. Stephanie tried, Jeff Johnson did too. Congratulations TJMS but this seems to be rececyled rhetoric from Smiley— we’re holding our leaders accountable. Watch out Lemon! Black folks and Tom will eventually turn on you too. Until then, Godspeed.

  15. All of us should be critical thinkers and not accept everything that is thrown at us. Our people who have can do a lot to help the have not if they were not so selfish. I am not saying throw their wealth away, but help improve the school system; computers, books, etc., the neighborhoods and the list goes on. Who needs thirty cars?, bling on top of bling. BLACK PEOPLE WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!

  16. Malcolm X, H. Rap Brown, Martin Luther King, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis Jessie Jackson and the list goes on when talking about the leaders we had in my day. These creeps today making all these millions of dollars care nothing about no one but them selves and will boldly say so to any on who ask. But they want you to go out and buy their jerseys CDs and Movie DVDs. These folks don’t have the heart or the love for their people like the leaders of the past had. And in saying that in NO WAY am I saying that these fools of today are leaders. And I love the fact that Jamie Fox and Don Lemon are calling their asses out. Now let’s see who even cares enough to respond….

    • AGREE!!!!! The people that were called out either WON’T respond or will respond in selfishness and typical “all about me: fashion. The leaders of past would give their lives (and they did) for this. It wasn’t about them, it was about US and whats right. The people he named aren’t leaders, but they are people who millions of people follow, pay attention to and support. Just think if they could channel those millions into a movement for justice equality. It might not make them any money or bring them the kind of spotlight they want, so they won’t do it. I wish more people would come out and echo what Don and Jamie have stated. Put some pressure on these people. It would interesting to see how they respond to the pressure. I have a feeling that this new Don Lemon segment might not be comfortable for some of us to hear, but it should make us think and look at things from a perspective we have taken for granted and ignored for too long. It would be nice if Tom brought Jamie on the show to continue this topic.

      • dtown: I agree that Lemon’s commentary will make (some) people uncomfortable; but who cares. Bottom line is that (some) people don’t like to hear, or address the truth. I applaud Don for stepping up to the plate. The other thing is I get so tired of hearing (some) people referring to Jesse Jackson as a Black leader. Jesse pretty much became irrelevant years ago. As for Sharpton some people think he’s self serving. Well self serving, or not….at lease he’s out front. And that’s fair game when you have the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Sean Hannity spewing rhetoric loud, and clear on a daily basis

      • Joy
        TOTALLY agree!! Jesse is tolerated and respected only because of the past. We respect our elders (older people), so we don’t diss him (much at least LOL), but you are right. if you HAD to point to one person NOW TODAY and say, THAT person is leading us it HAS to be Rev Al. Who else do we currently have? White folks have who you mentioned PLUS some..

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