The Audacity to Lead

I find it very interesting that the moment I decided to stand up for something, the people who are against my methods offer me advice or suggestions on what needs to be done instead of doing it themselves. It really makes me wonder, why are we afraid to lead? I truly believe the answer is found in this famous quote that many leaders like me use to inspire the people: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” —Marianne Williamson
            A few weeks ago, I decided to take a stand to call out Don Lemon and CNN for his distasteful performance as one of the very few African-American journalists who has risen to the national and international status on a major communications network; to date we have over 36,000 signatures who, just like me are no longer confident in his ability to portray the news without having to use the African-American community (which he is a part of) as a scapegoat for his personal gains.
Many people have supported me not because of the hope or possibility that it can get him fired, but for the symbolism that I stand for; in the words of President Obama “We don’t need more talk”. I took a bold stance because the time of talking about occurrences like this is no longer needed; I, as a proud African-American took to a petition because it paves the way for many people who may not have the courage or desire to lead, to be supportive of something that they believe in. Many felt that my petition wasn’t going to do anything that he will still be in his job while I am looking for “temporary attention”. What they fail to realize, is that my actions has the people standing up and taking action; something simple as signing a petition speaks tremendous volumes than those who just simply complain.
            But my issue is not with the people who took a stand, my issue is with the people within my community and other communities of color who have complained and spoke negatively of me: Why aren’t you doing something to make a difference, an impact? One person wrote in response to my petition that instead of trying to get one of our own fired, start a petition that shuts down sites that hurt our image ( as an example). I find that very funny, because while that person was suggesting it, they too could have started a petition right there on the spot and thus could have created a chain reaction of the people standing up and taking action for what they believe in.
            I want to let you all know something; being a leader is not easy, in fact as stated in a book Miles Anthony Smith on his cover, “leadership sucks”. It sucks because you are on the forefront of many causes, the face of an issue that you stand for, the name as the chief resource in making a movement or a cause possible. Leadership does suck, but it is truly worth every burden, every negative and positive feedback, every distasteful and overwhelming support that we receive; leadership is not for everyone, it is only meant for the few. If only we as the people who are chosen and have a desire to lead, would not be afraid of the “what you can do”, we will move so many mountains.
            I am just one of many leaders, who have the true desire to serve and lead the people because the people made a choice to stand behind, support and invest in someone they truly believe that will make an impact; a difference. For me, I may just be a 30 year old African-American man who is on the verge of obtaining his MPA and his pursuit for a PhD and take on the path to become President of the United States; but to the people, my family, my church and friends, this is only the beginning.

Change begins with one; therefore it shall begin with me—Jamell Henderson