Long before Gil Robertson became an entertainment writer and co-founder and leader of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), he worked as a political consultant. Political engagement came easy for the Los Angeles native.

“I grew up in a family where being political and civically involved is just who we are,” he explains. “And I also grew up in a generation where political leaders, elected officials, were given a more elevated platform and visibility than they are today.”

That time of the 1970s when cities like Los Angeles, Detroit and Atlanta elected their first black mayors with Tom Bradley, Coleman Young and Maynard Jackson was magical for Robertson. It gave black political leadership a spotlight that he saw rekindled with the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president. A desire to seize and stoke that momentum led Robertson, whose previous books include the anthologies “Not in My Family: AIDS in the African-American Community” and “Family Affair: What It Means to Be African American Today,” to pen the young-adult book, “Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present” for pioneering black children’s book publisher Just Us Books.

“I wanted to provide an introduction to the next generation of current and past black leaders,” says Robertson, who splits his residency between Atlanta and Los Angeles. “For the most part, I don’t think leadership occupies the imagination of the minds of young people in the same way that it did for previous generations, which is surprising given the onslaught of round-the-clock news. But I think there are so many distractions out there that leadership is something that is overlooked or perhaps is seen as unattainable.”

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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Ronda Racha Penrice

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