By C.C. Campbell-Rock

The outcry for leadership in America is deafening. The inability of a president to lead the country through what is arguably the biggest catastrophe to hit the U.S. in modern times, the coronavirus pandemic, and the ever-widening partisan divide in both federal and state governments, has Americans, news pundits, and health professionals calling out for someone, anyone, to lead us back to normalcy.

Into this leadership void steps Marc Haydel Morial, a former New Orleans mayor and the President and CEO of the National Urban League, whose new book, The Gumbo Coalition: 10 Leadership Lessons That Help You Inspire, Unite, and Achieve, offers a diversity of ingredients; a recipe for good leadership that is much needed for those who aspire to lead and people who are currently in leadership positions.

The book is named for “The Gumbo Coalition,” that Morial put together during his 1994 mayoral campaign. The Gumbo Coalition’s guiding philosophy was unity with a purpose.

“I found a way to work with people, even if I disagreed with them. I focused on making things happen and not getting bogged down in political theater,” Morial explained in a recent interview.

“I think building consensus and bringing in all the elements to create the goal and accomplish the goal,”  said Sybil Haydel Morial, Marc Morial’s mother of the greatest lesson in The Gumbo Coalition. “He first talks about making Gumbo and all the ingredients.”

Gumbo, New Orleans’ legendary cuisine, is much more than a delicious dish. It is a cultural tradition in African-American households, where it is prepared for special occasions. It is a unifying feast unto itself, with no less than 10 diverse ingredients.  Gumbo gathers family members and friends together and captures memories of the good times, in the take home portions given at the end of an  event.

Morial’s Gumbo Coalition  brought in people from all walks of life (the ingredients) to mount his campaign. One can argue that Morial, himself, was the roux (the flour-based sauce that holds the Gumbo together) in The Gumbo Coalition.

The Gumbo Coalition presents the challenges Morial faced through the prism of his memoirs and the leadership lessons he learned during his legal and political careers.

Even before becoming mayor, Morial was surrounded by leaders. His father, Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial , a civil rights attorney, led the New Orleans Branch of the NAACP before becoming the city’s first African-American mayor.

His mother, Sybil, was an educational leader and a civil rights advocate. In the early 1980, she produced a historic documentary, “A House Divide,” narrated by actor James Earl Jones, which told the story of the community’s effort to break the back of segregation in the public schools.  Sybil Morial also penned a best-seller, “Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment.”

Thorough his parents, Morial was exposed to the greatest civil rights leaders of the modern civil rights movement, including the late attorney and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., attorney A.P. Tureaud and Rev. A.L. Davis, whose church was the location of the founding of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Sybil Morial and MLK, Jr. were college friends. They both attended Boston College.

Growing up in a city  slow to give up segregation, Morial learned that progress can only come from building a broad-based coalition of people from all walks of life and building a gumbo of multi-racial, multi-generational, and multi-gender persons to met the challenges of a house divided.

“His challenges, some were really daunting ,” his mother says of his legal and political careers, “but he wasn’t afraid to speak out. He knew he couldn’t be adversarial force, but he stuck to his beliefs.”

Along the way, Morial faced tough leadership challenges and learned from them. “I sued the gun industry and they (gun lobby) launched a ferocious counter-attack. I had to scramble to defend the case. They tried to overturn laws; threatened to boycott the city.”

Morial filed the lawsuit after a friend, Raymond Myles, a gospel singer, was killed in 1998. Myles had performed at Morial’s second inauguration. “New Orleans was the first city to sue the gun industry,” he added. “I lost the suit. The gun lobby went to Congress to get a statute passed that immunized the gun lobby from lawsuits. “They were successful in passing a law to invalidate the lawsuit. The law said you can’t bring a gun lobby to court.”

The lesson Morial learned from that encounter was he was ill-prepared to take on the wealthy, well-connected gun lobby. “The lesson of the story…would I have done it again? Yes…but I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. You always have to think three steps ahead when you’re making noodles.”

Morial remembers one victory that occurred when he was a young lawyer. “When I was 26 or 27, I got an opportunity to argue before the Louisiana Supreme Court.” At the time, Morial had been working at a prestigious law firm for two years.

“The Shropshire case made police records available to the public,” Morial says of his precedent-setting legal victory. After his presentation, Mack Barham, the senior partner in the law firm saw Morial in the hallway, , and asked him “Where did you learn to argue like that?” “I told him, ‘I’ve been in your law firm for two years. You should have put me in the game a long time ago.’ ”

“Morial built what he christened the “Gumbo Coalition,” an incredible mixture of all of New Orleans’s ingredients–African Americans, Whites, Latinos, Asians, business leaders, grassroots community activists, business leaders, clergy, and many more,” says Lavaille Lavette, editor of The Gumbo Coalition.

Lavette is a best-selling author and the president and publisher of two imprints, One Street Books and Ebony Magazine Publishing, in partnership with HarperCollins Publishers.

“This is the type of book that individuals from all walks of life will benefit from.  It’s about more than just developing or sharpening your leadership skills. If you want to learn how to be a better networker, if you want to learn how to recognize when and how to modify your plan (in your business or even in your home life as a Mother or Father) how to fight through disappointments to achieve your goals.  It’s more than a book, it’s a notion, it’s a movement, it’s Marc Morial giving back in the hopes to inspire us all to do better and be better,” Lavette adds.

 An adept storyteller, Morial wrote The Gumbo Coalition to create lessons he’s learned that he wants to pass on to aspiring leaders. “Throughout the book, I share insights through stories and life lessons. They contain the leadership tenents (gumbo principles) I used as a practicing attorney, member of the Louisiana State Legislature, mayor of New Orleans, and ultimately as the currently president of the National Urban League…And who would have thought that all this wisdom could be found in a pot of gumbo?”

Gumbo, New Orleans’ legendary dish cuisine, is much more than just a culinary experience. It is a cultural tradition in African-American households, where it is prepared for special occasions. It is a unifying feast unto itself, with no less than 10 diverse ingredients the dish gathers family members together and captures memories of these good times, in the take home portions given at the end of the event.

“Marc and I have a very special connection. First, because his twin passions mirror my own—leadership and diversity. Second, because of what he has done for both. I’ve known Marc for many years, and I have seen him in action making things happen. But nothing told me more about the power of his leadership skills than Marc’s ability to lead the charge to bring the National Basketball Association (NBA) back to the Big Easy,” Earvin “Magic” Johnson wrote in the Afterword of The Gumbo Coalition.

“Marc Morial is a star of strategy and execution. This is a book that will help you thrive and save you time, money, and heartache. I wish I had it at the beginning of my career,” Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor-in-Chief Emerita of Esssence Magazine, commented.

“While The Gumbo Coalition is a fascinating political memoir, it’s also something more: a leadership manual, complete with checklists, tips, that and pitfalls to avoid. This playbook is both practical and deeply principled. And the theme that unites it all—the core of Marc’s leadership philosophy—is the values of building diverse and inclusive teams. To my mind, that makes the Gumbo Coalition essential reading for people across sectors—especially business leaders,” Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook wrote in the Foreword.

Bishop Paul S. Morton, renowned pastor, recording artist, and author said, “I found the words of The Gumbo Coalition ministering to my spirit. Readers of Marc Morial’s blessed work will find an uplifting, challenging, and encouraging word they can use along their journeys to becoming their better selves.”

One thought on “THE GUMBO COALITION”
  1. When Marc was mayor, we were his “Environmental Advisors” and created the 1st Office of Environmental Affairs! We “Chaired The Transition Team Committee”!
    What happened recently with “Comcast” with respect to the 1800’s Civil Rights Act? Where did The Nat’l Urban League stand? Ask who is a “Minority” according to The League and what is a “Minority Advisory Committee” aka who makes it up? Research and Beware before endorsements! Comcast is a member of Directors, Urban League aka “mullah? Let’s end all the games!!

    !LBRC- You’ve been listening to “Talking Heads”? They sound so serious…

    1. Why is Covid- 20 called “Covid- 19” in 2020? We know it’s “Mutated” via Synergisms and other!

    2. We are in year 2020!!! Your “Non Science” Talking Heads have been
    “Herding Your Minds” and you believed them because they sound so serious
    behind a microphone (Microphones and Cameras increase IQ and makes Con Artist honest,
    right?) or in front a camera aka The Pied Piper Led “Children”, mentally and
    chronologically!!! Egregious is when haughty members of “The Herd” hear, then
    repeat it publicly, then stand proud because they’re really ‘Simp Sycophants!!! Ask if
    any passed basic Biology or Chemistry “Competence” in High School, or did
    “they” just say you passed, like ‘Dat Valedictorian who couldn’t pass basic
    competency (They tell you your resource deprived and violent schools are great, but how
    many do “their” kids attend?). Don’t get it twisted, we don’t have lots of
    skills we never practiced or trained in! We stay in our “Certified and Studied
    Lanes” and proved “Competence” where and when it counted- In Schools of
    Higher Learning and among “Competent” Peers! And yes, most of us are

    *Short Story- Aboard a Star Ship, the Chief Engineer told the Pilot to turn Right
    “Now”! The Pilot asked why? The Chief Engineer Replied- “I could try and
    condense 30 yrs. of training in Laws of Hydrodynamics, Expansion of Metals, Physics and
    Chemical Reactions into 5 secs. or…, you can just take my g^* d#+*€^ word for it and
    turn right “Now”!!!

    3. If you thought 19 is rough, wait until #45, ‘Dats a powerful Carona his hair exudes,
    we’d never drink of, and “Covid- 20” finishes with ‘cha! How in the heck do you
    say to a Brain Stem let alone a viable Brain- “Vaccine or not, we’re opening for
    business” aka Deep 6 “All” The “Doctors and Scientist”? #45 and
    his Confederate Flag “Traitors and Lost Cause Zealots” desire “Another
    Chance”? #45 says he’s down with “These fine people”? Mary, Joseph and
    Marta Caroli plus three…


    Peace Out…

    Btw- Your weather people are so dishonest! Only recently, they’ve renamed clouds polluted
    with ChemTrails “Undulated Clouds” aka Asperitas, (Moving in Waves, Dark)!
    Question? These Clouds never existed prior to 2009? What did exist? Ans. Growing risk of
    “Air Pollution” and poisoning Imhotep!!! Deep 6 The Clean Air and Water Acts,
    right Flint Michigan? 5G manipulation? Watch Star Trek, The 2020 Version right, as soon
    as they clear The Movie Shops? Can’t wait to share your Covid, right?

    Peace Out…

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