We must be sympathetic, we must be forgiving, we must really have forbearance, so that when the ignorant and illiterate fellow who happens to be a member of your own race stands up to block the passage of some cause that you believe would be to his benefit and to yours as a people you will be able to overlook him, even though he fosters his opposition with the greatest amount of insult to your intelligence and to your dignity.
The excuse that some our most brilliant men give for not identifying themselves with race movements is, that they cannot tolerate the interference of the illiterate Negro, who, being a member if the same organization will attempt to dictate what you should do in the interest of the race, when his act is based upon no deeper judgment that his like or dislike for the person he is opposing, or the satisfaction it would give him to embarrass the person he feels like opposing. Many an able leader is lost to his race because of this fear, and sometimes we must admit the reasonableness of this argument; but as I have said leadership means giving up one's personality, giving up of everything for the cause that is worth while.
It is only because of that feeling that I personally continue to lead the Universal Negro Improvement Association, because like every other leader, I have had to encounter the opposition, the jealousy, the plotting of men who take advantage of the situation, simply because they happen to be members of the organization, and that we may have to depend upon their vote one way or the other for the good of the cause. Not that some of us care one row of pins about what the other fellow thinks, but when it is considered that we can only achieve success through harmony and unity, then it can be realized how much he has to sacrifice as a leader for getting that harmony that is necessary to bring about the results that are desired.
Excerpt taken from Africa for the Africans published in 1923.