Julian Bond: A civil rights hero

Photo courtesy of AP/ Wide world photos

Bond turned down a vice presidential nomination early in his career.

Shaquille Blackstock
        Staff Writer

Last week, one of the most influential members of the civil rights movement, Julian Bond, passed away Aug. 15 after a brief illness at the age of 75.

He will be remembered as not only being a champion for the rights of African Americans, but for championing justice for everyone.

Born to Julia Agnes Washington and Horace Mann Bond in Nashville, Tenn. in 1940, Bond moved to Scarsdale, N.Y., with his son in the 1960s and it was there that he would experience the prejudice that would ignite the fire in him to become an activist.

“There was a particular department store that was segregated and no people of color could try on clothes there because Caucasian people feared that the pigment would rub off on the clothes and ultimately on them,” Derrick Covington, of the International Civil Rights museum, told The Carolinian.

“This scarred Bond and his son, and there was a big push to seek action from Dr. King,” Covington explained.

Bond went to Morehouse College, the same college that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. graduated from, and went on to become the first president of the Poverty Law Center, serving from 1971 to 1979, as his greatest aim was to fight poverty in the South.

When asked whether Bond had any particular way of setting himself up as an activist, Covington responded, “Julian Bond’s biggest weapon was education. He considered a sound education as the ultimate importance.”

Bond would become the first African American to lead the Delegation of the Democratic National Convention, and was nominated as the vice president, another achievement, though he would turn down the nomination because he was too young— only in his twenties at the time.

Bond was already well known at this time and leading the delegation only boosted his public image.

Covington also explained other work that Bond did and talked about whom he closely worked with, saying, “He worked with John Lewis, a congressman from Atlanta, and also with Andrew Young, a former US ambassador.”

Covington also described Bond’s role in the student sit-ins that blazed across the south in the 1960s and that were a driving force behind the beginning of the civil rights movement.

“He coordinated a lot with SNCC, or the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee, working mostly with high school and college students, training them for nonviolence. They practiced scenarios of what it would be like, while doing sit-ins and protests. He taught the students how to protect themselves from assault, in ways reminiscent of military exercises,” said Covington.

Bond praised SNCC highly in his lifetime, and found the organization to be better than the NAACP.

Bond would later go on to become a chairman of the NAACP from 1998 to 2010, and would have other momentous accomplishments in his career as well.

Bond served in the Georgia House from 1975 to 1986 as well as six terms in the Senate.

When asked about what the best way to honor this exemplary figure would be, Covington’s answer is more simple than expected: “The best way for the younger generations to honor this great man would be to be disciplined and organized, especially in your endeavors and protests.”

He continued, saying, “We have to be serious about important social issues, like the Black Lives Matter movement, and not let passion carry us too far from our original cause. Bond emphasized the importance of education when he spoke at N.C. A&T State University in 2011.”

Covington described Bond as a “very humble person,” and in a detailed a conversation they had via email, Bond told Covington about being a leader, and what it takes to be a good one.

“Discipline, organization and never limiting yourself to your education,” Covington said about Bond’s leadership advice.

In remembrance of Bond and all of his achievements, his widow asked for people to throw flowers of any kind into a body of water—rivers, streams, oceans, et cetera—at 4:00 p.m.

She wants people to take pictures of it and post it online with the hashtag, #HonorJulianBond.

The CEO of the International Civil Rights Museum posted a statement Aug. 17 regarding Bond’s passing, saying, “Our hearts are saddened that our hero, mentor and friend Julian Bond has passed away, but we will remember him as a champion for justice.”

Bond is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz Bond, as well as by his six children, Jeffrey Alvin Bond, Julia “Cookie” Louise Bond, Phyllis Jane Bond-McMillan, Horace Mann Bond II and Michael Julian Bond.

Categories: Features, Human Interest, Shaquille Blackstock

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