Self-proclaimed leaders who focus on grievances are hurting the black community. That’s the assessment of one of Washington’s most well-known African-American journalists, Juan Williams of National Public Radio and Fox News.

Williams shared with a Charlotte audience today themes from his recent book Enough. Williams says he was inspired to write the book after critics excoriated comedian Bill Cosby for talking tough about the disintegration of the black family.

Williams contends (video clip) blacks, whites, and people of all races need to be able to have serious discussions about race — without name-calling and continual reversions to complaints and grievances.

What I’m saying to you today is that you have to have a sense of the importance of people holding on to a tradition that says, “We can. We can achieve. We can be educated. We can find good schools for our children. We can strengthen our communities. We do not have to accept high levels of criminal behavior. We do not have to focus on grievance. We can succeed.”

That, my friends, is really the most important message — a positive, affirmative message. Unfortunately, it’s a message not being delivered by many who dominate the scene today in terms of black leadership. But I would hope that each and every one of you would join in an effort to do something about a black community that’s struggling to find its way, especially those who remain locked in poverty and denied access to that level playing field.

We all — regardless of your political stripes, regardless of your race, regardless of whether or not your rich or poor — have an investment in an America where people believe they can move forward and succeed.