Copy editor Jelani Stowers

February is Black History Month, and in America, there is often a disconnect between a leader’s image during a campaign and a leader’s actions during their term. There’s a balance African American Leaders strike between the firm dictator, and the glorified voting booth.

African American leaders shine above the common people, but must stand humbly below them. How else could you hold up their beliefs while looking down on them? It’s a heavy burden to bear, so African American leaders often have teams who are equally or perhaps more so representative of the people’s desires as the elected leader themself.

The founders of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, started the most well known civil rights movement in the 21st century, yet their names and individual actions are small in comparison to the passionate emotional stories of the people who follow them. 

“Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and W.E.B. Debois are great leaders, figureheads, and speakers. They have iconic personalities, and represent the best in our capability as a people,” said CMA history teacher Benjamin Dirden.

An African American leader closest to us here is senior president of Communication & Media Arts High School, Noah Cravens. He is also an online motivational speaker. 

“Everyday, I use Instagram (@young.visionary_ ) to post my thoughts, my audience is made of mostly teens and I engage with them as my peers," Cravens said. 

He takes the time to respond to comments and pushes –even those he doesn't personally agree with– to stay positive and pursue a higher education of some form. As a young man, he has the maturity to grow alongside his following.

Leaders need to be able to communicate their own opinions, work with and manage a like-minded and focused team, and supply the population with a moderate degree of transparency to be fully effective. Leaders cannot depend solely on their own judgement or try to satisfy the people’s often incomplete and varying opinions. An African American leader is strong, patient and understanding.