At a conference on “leadership succession” in New York late in 1985, I was struck by the remarks of David Jones, then executive director of the city’s Youth Bureau, now head of one of the city’s oldest nonprofit social service agencies, the Community Service Society. Jones mentioned in passing, but not casually, that several bright young black lawyers he’d known in some of the city’s most powerful law firms during the mid-1970s had committed suicide and/or suffered mental breakdown, at least in part because of the ambiguity surrounding their failures to succeed as first-rate lawyers, much less become full partners in their firms.
When I talked to Jones at the Community Service Society in January 1987, he described the recruitment of capable young blacks as “window dressing” by firms that still block black advancement to positions of real leadership....
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