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9 Black Leaders Honor The Past And Provide Hope For The Future

In recognition of Black History Month in February, the Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC) at Gettysburg College interviewed nine of today’s black leaders asking their perspectives on how lead positive social change in the 21st century.

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Jeanne Arnold

Chief Diversity Officer, Social Worker, Gettysburg College

Who is your leadership hero?

"My leadership heroes are everyday people who identify injustices in their communities and bring people and systems together to address the issues. My parents were my first role models is this regard as I can remember them advocating for fair housing practices and against tracking in schools when I was a young child."

Chris Tinson

Assistant Professor of African American studies at Hampshire College

Who is your leadership hero?

"My ideal vision of leadership is a mash-up of Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Duke Ellington. Baker’s grassroots leadership and firm belief in the organizing potential of young people, Malcolm’s profound sense of dedication and commitment, and Ellington’s melodic tenacity and intrigue as bandleader of his jazz orchestra offer the alchemy of vision, skill, and commitment to community I believe leaders must possess."

Kirby Scott '77

Retired FBI Special Agent

What impact do you think Black History Month has had on social change?

"Black History Month puts issues and concerns, at least for a month, in the general public's focus. In this time of social media, hopefully there is a time for people to stop and reflect on where we are and where we have come as a nation."

The Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Donella II

Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Chaplain of the College, Adj Prof - Religious Studies, Gettysburg College

What gives you hope for the future of leadership today?
"One of the more surprising things I find is that young people have a difficult time believing that some of the atrocities of the past actually occurred. They cannot imagine that human beings would actually treat one another with such callous regard. Their interest in developing strong senses of community I find deeply inspiring, but, I do worry that they may be inclined to give up once they discover that true human community building is arduous self-sacrificial work."

Darnell Moore

Educator, Writer, Cultural Worker, Critic

Please describe how you approach leadership in your work or your community.

"I tend not to use the term ‘leadership’ to describe transformative community work that actually can only be accomplished through collaboration. My approach is one grounded in shared responsibility. "

Darryl Jones

Senior Associate Director of Admissions, Gettysburg Colllege

What gives you hope for the future of leadership today?
"Working with the GLC's Emerging Leaders Retreat and seeing the diversity among the participants means that leadership belongs to EVERYONE, not just one group, one culture, one nationality. It lifts my spirit EVERY time I participate."

Monique Mathews-Gore '06

Miranda Harple

Associate Director of Student Activities and Greek Life, Gettysburg College

Who is your leadership hero?
"Nelson Mandela. When you think about the history of his role in leadership, he was mostly behind bars trying to lead and to move a country towards desegregation and a non-apartheid era, and he spent 20 years behind bars empowering a movement and it wasn't until he got out and was appointed as president of South Africa that he was able to enact all the changes he had been talking about for the last 20 years. I think that's a very powerful type of leadership. Even though he wasn't out in front like a Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr., he was still able to invoke a spirit in people that change needed to occur in the country."

Dion Liverpool ’93

Disc jockey, Manager, Producer, and Entrepreneur

What impact do you think Black History Month has had on social change?

"I honestly think that everyday should be Black History Day or whatever day we choose to celebrate. I think the shortest month of the year is not enough time to celebrate all that Black History has to offer. I think that people get excited about it but typically think nothing of it during the other 11 months. I think it is funny that February is a month with so many things going on: Grammys, Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, Oscars, Valentine's Day. To me it is kind of hard to focus on Black History Month when there are so many other distractions. This is why I choose to celebrate black history all year. It is great to read posts and historic facts about it, but I don't know if that just raises awareness or actually impacts social change."

McKinley E. Melton

Assistant Professor of English, Gettysburg College

Please describe how you approach leadership in your work or your community.
My personal vision of leadership is rooted in education and empowerment. I think that knowledge is invaluable, but education is only effective when it is about more than learning facts and concepts. The next step is in empowering students to do something positively transformative with what they’ve learned, to be critical thinkers and active participants in shaping the world around them. This is always a central aim of my own work as an educator.

Please note that all responses from the leaders above will be published on the GLC website shortly at

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