Civil Rights Leader Bond Succumbs
BY DAVID STOKES
A charismatic national board officer of the NAACP, an adjunct history professor at American University in the nation's Capitol and, in earlier life, Georgia's youngest state senator and a civil rights activist who helped lead Atlanta's student movement which led to the creation of The Atlanta Inquirer, Julian Bond—never one who was hesitant to speak his mind—died weekend before last, on Aug. 15, in a beachfront city in Florida, miles away from the Atlantic Ocean. Accordingly, the 75 year old's ashes were committed to the Gulf of Mexico last Saturday (Aug. 22), as he desired, upon being cremated following a brief illness.
H. Julian Bond, born Jan. 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tenn., was a 'man for all seasons' who catapulted onto the national scene within civil/human rights, in particular, upon he and other student activists, including John Lewis, James Lawson and Robert Moses, founding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), in 1960, upon SCLC's Ella Baker making the suggestion as a duplication of sit-in protests by students of North Carolina who attended Shaw University and other area schools. Although meant as a precursor for SCLC's youth division, SNCC would retain its autonomy with initiatives although the organization, under Bond's leadership as communications director, continued to work with SCLC and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in particular, in securing voting rights for black Americans. In Atlanta as a Morehouse College student, Bond is noted, along with classmate Lonnie King, for creating the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights after learning of student protests in North Carolina. As the public organ to inform the Atlanta community of local students seeking to gain civil rights, Bond, King and other students, with local community and business leaders' assistance, formed The Atlanta Inquirer in August, 1960. Several years later, Bond would advance humanitarian efforts, in 1965, by seeking elective office as a Ga. House representative—in which he won with 82% of voters' support. However, due to opposing the Vietnam War and legislators calling the act treasonous, Bond was refused his state Legislature seat. However, he gained his seat, in January 1967, after winning unanimous approval by the U.S. Supreme Court the month before. From 1974-86, Bond served as a state senator representing District 136, prior to seeking to become a U.S. congressman to represent Atlanta's Fifth District. His political nemesis, John Lewis, won the seat, and has continued to serve the district for the past three decades. Nevertheless, Bond continued to serve the constituency at-large by becoming, in 1971, the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., after, three years prior, withdrawing his name as vice presidential candidate alongside Eugene McCarthy running for president, in 1968, and obtaining his Bachelor's of Arts
degree in English from Morehouse College. The next 40-plus years would have Bond inundated with education, as well as serving in social advocacy, by teaching history at American University in Washington, D.C., and later at the University of Virginia. In 1998, Bond was elected national chairman of the board of NAACP following a tumultuous period of turnover within the venerable civil rights organization the preceding years with predecessor Dr. William Gibson and several individuals serving as president/CEO: Kweisi Mfume', the former congressman who represented Baltimore, and North Carolina student activist Benjamin Chavis, now president of the National Newspapers Publisher's Association, "the Black Press of America," respectively. Also during his later years, Bond was an adjunct professor or history at American University in Washington, D.C., as well as taught at the University of Virginia.
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Pictured (l.-r.) #1) During one of several Butler St. YMCA "Hungry Club" forum lunches held each week at the historic YMCA on historic 'Sweet Auburn' Ave. at Jesse Hill, Jr. Dr. (formerly Butler Street, near downtown Atlanta), Julian Bond, then a state senator in the Georgia Legislature, makes remarks at the lunch with community and political activists/leaders on issues impacting the local African-American community. WERD Radio—the first black-owned and operated radio station in the United States that was located on Auburn Avenue, NE Atlanta—was an initial sponsor of the Y's 'Hungry Club' forum lunches. #2) During his commencement/graduation ceremony at Morehouse College, Julian Bond shakes hands with Morehouse President Dr. Hugh Gloster (1912-2002), in 1971, upon receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in English. #3) Conferring with another 'first' within the Georgia state Legislature, state Rep. Ben Brown of Atlanta, who was also a member of the Atlanta Student Movement of the '60s, and Sen. Julian Bond talks issues as an office assistant looks on. #4) Julian Bond, a former Georgia state senator and Atlanta Inquirer reporter, listens to several supporters and colleagues during an impromptu meeting. Among those with Bond (third from right) are (left) Jim Davis, the retired senior vice president of Ga. Power; former state Sen. Leroy Johnson, (at far right); and state Rep. Ben Brown. (The ladies in between are unknown.) #5) Julian Bond, leaning over chair, confers with other members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, in the 1960s. Bond, John Lewis and other students founded the organization in 1960. The two seated members are unknown. ATLANTA INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS
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Many around the nation poured in words of comfort and condolences to the Bond family the past week, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, stating, "Atlanta is in mourning by his death. Julian Bond changed our state and our country, and we are forever in his debt." Indicated Cong. Lewis on Twitter 24 hours of Bond's demise, " Bond lived a life of great impact, great courage and of great distinction. Although we went through a difficult period during our campaign for Congress in 1986, we emerged many years ago as even closer" during the past 30 years. Lewis continued, "Julian was so smart, gifted and talented, and deeply committed to making our country a better nation." Gov. Nathan Deal stated that he was "saddened to learn of the death of a great civil rights icon." Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. stated on Twitter, "Julian Bond was a great man who made the gains of the next generation possible and the nation better. We owe him much." Other public servants were just as complimentary and laudatory: "I am deeply saddened to hear of Julian Bond's passing," declared Fulton Co. Commission Chairman John Eaves. "He leaves an immeasurable legacy as a public servant and champion for justice who possessed the unique combination of courage, passion and intellectualism. His imprint on our city, county, state and nation will be everlasting." From the White House, President Barack Obama stated, "Julian Bond was a hero, and I am privileged to say, a friend. Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life. Michelle and I have benefited from his example, his counsel and his friendship. He helped change the country for the better—and what better way to be remembered than that." Charles Steele, Jr., president/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, stated, "Julian Bond was a passionate and charismatic human and civil rights activist and a triumphant civil rights leader whose eloquent voice made him an iconic figure of the civil rights movement. I am saddened by his sudden death, but heartened by the dynamic life of activism he lived with his considerable contributions made for all Americans. He will be remembered and revered as one of the leading lights of the nation's civil rights movement. Let us all keep the Bond family in our thoughts and prayers." National Action Network President/CEO the Rev. Al Sharpton said, "NAN mourns the loss of civil rights leader Julian Bond, a trailblazer for equality and inclusion. The nation has lost a champion for human rights, and his work will be missed but never forgotten as we march forward for civil rights." From the publisher/CEO of The Atlanta Inquirer, John B. Smith, Sr., "It is with profound and deep sadness that I've learned of the passing of our good friend and colleague, Julian Bond. Julian was truly a 'man for all seasons' who labored for justice and equality for African-Americans, in particular. He was an intelligent man who challenged and changed the unjust, as well as worked to bring about opportunities for all mankind. Julian was also an erudite 'chaplain of the common good' who never forgot his humble beginnings while advancing to the pinnacle of civil rights leadership and academia. His legacy with The Inquirer and elsewhere in the nation will never be forgotten, and the country is a better place due to his presence. Let us collectively extend to him our thanks for his steadfast vision and determination to advance human and civil rights for all as we keep the family lifted in prayer during this difficult time." From the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., founding president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, "The news of Julian Bond's passing saddened me deeply. He was a leader with strength and character, and America has lost a true and vital champion for justice. He was also a leader of exceptional clarity who had the strong mind and courage needed to break strong chains. He made a dramatic contribution with his life, and he will be deeply missed." Sam Massell, Atlanta's former mayor, said, "Julian Bond was very comfortable across racial, religious, geographical and political party lines. His intellectual prowess could compete at any level. With these credentials, he made contributions in every segment of his life, particularly in political, civic and academic circles." "Morehouse College joins the nation in mourning the death of one of our most accomplished and prominent graduates, Julian Bond," exalted John Silvanus Wilson, Morehouse's president. "He was a master of speaking truth to power, and challenged Morehouse students to go beyond seeking personal comfort in the world, thereby, live a life of service to others. His indelible mark on the nation will continue to be celebrated by the Morehouse family and should never be forgotten."
In a statement issued by Julian Bond's wife, children and siblings, on Aug. 18, "We are honoring Julian's wishes that he be cremated and his ashes be committed to the Gulf of Mexico," on Aug. 22, at 2pm. CST. "We understand that many loved and admired Julian—and want you to join us in bidding farewell to our Horace Julian Bond." Furthermore, the family invited "all to gather at a body of water near your home, and spread flower petals on the body of water." The family also indicated that a memorial service will be announced at a later date for the community at-large's inclusion. Julian Bond's survivors include his second wife, the former Pamela Horowitz; sons Horace II, Jeffrey and Michael, daughters Phyllis Jane and Julia Louise, sister Jane, brother James, and eight grandchildren.
Oprah Winfrey Remembers Civil Rights Leader Julian Bond
In memory of civil rights leader Julian Bond of Atlanta, who died on Aug. 15, entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey and the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network presented a special encore presentation of the star-studded television event, "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved the Way," on Aug. 22, in which Bond and other civil/human rights legends were honored for their humanitarian efforts in making the United States a better place for all people. Those recognized during several gala events last December, including Bond, (pictured left to right, in first row) were former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, civil rights activist Diane Nash, civil rights activist Juanita Jones Abernathy, widow of SCLC co-founder Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy; civil rights leader Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, civil rights activist/ NAACP's Medgar Evers widow Myrlie Evers-Williams, Children Defense Fund's Marian Wright Edelman and the Rev. C.T. Vivian, formerly of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). On the second row are (at left to right) SNCC co-founder/Cong. John Lewis, former national NAACP board chairman Julian Bond, renowned actor Sidney Poitier, "Selma" lead actor David Oyelowo, Ms. Winfrey, "Selma" director Ava DuVernay, renowned musician Quincy Jones, actor/civil rights activist Dick Gregory and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr. (Not shown are actor/activist Harry Belafonte and activist Amelia Boynton-Robinson, respectively.) In honor of the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery marches, additionally, Ms. Winfrey hosted gala events prior to the January release of "Selma," thereby, honoring the aforementioned legendary men and extraordinary women of civil rights and the arts and entertainment who made history in redefining the nation. The weekend celebration in December was held in suburban Los Angeles, Calif., in Santa Barbara, with an exclusive "Selma" screening at the historic Arlington Theatre, followed by an evening gala saluting the legends at the Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara. President Obama presented a special message to the honorees via videotape, as well as a special poem was written by award-winning poet/author Pearl Cleage, with special music rendered by The O'Jays. PHOTO COURTESY OF 'OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK'