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To Be Equal

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Julian Bond Was Never One To Shrink Away From A Worthy Fight

“The country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.” —Morris Dees, Southern Poverty Law Center

He lived his life as a tireless champion of the oppressed and maligned, a battle-worn warrior for civil rights, equality and social justice. Bond fought the good fight, and at the still-youthful age of 75, he completed his course. His longtime dedication to equal rights for African-Americans—and for all—will be celebrated in the days and months to come. But we must guard against fossilizing his life and legacy in tributes or textbooks. Bond lived a life of action, clear mission and steadfast service. There could be no worthier tribute to Bond than to pick up the baton he has passed and re-dedicate ourselves to the struggle to make the promises and opportunities of our democracy true for all its citizens. That struggle is an ongoing one that neither begins nor ends with one movement or personality. Individually and collectively, we must take up the baton to bring an end to the deadly scourge of police brutality, close persistent economic inequality gaps and address destructive disparities in our nation’s education system. We must do it, because as Bond once famously reminded us all: “Good things don’t come to those who wait. They come to those who agitate.” Bond was a student in a philosophy class taught by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Morehouse College in Atlanta. It was there, during the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, that Bond began to agitate in earnest, co-founding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee along with other Morehouse students, including now-Congressman John Lewis. He served as the group’s communications director for five years. Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but was not allowed to take his seat because his white colleagues objected to his opposition to the Vietnam War. It took a year, a protest march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a Supreme Court order, but the legislature finally allowed him to take his rightful seat in 1966. He spent 20 years in the Georgia Legislature, serving in both the House and the Senate. In 1968, Bond became a national figure after delivering a fiery speech at the Chicago Democratic National Convention. His performance was so impressive; his name was placed into the nominating process for vice president—a position he could not qualify for because he was too young. Bond went on to serve as the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, remaining on its board for the rest of his life after his tenure came to an end in 1979. Later, he would also serve as chairman of the NAACP. No matter the capacity, Bond was first and foremost an activist for equal rights. In addition to his political career and his work as a civil rights leader, Bond was an accomplished writer, he was a lecturer and a professor, a television show host and he narrated “Eyes on the Prize,” an iconic documentary on the civil rights movement. Bond never stopped agitating because he fundamentally believed that, “the humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.” Bond never limited his philosophy to any community, region or nationality. Bond fought against segregation on our shores and apartheid in South Africa. He devoted himself to equal rights for all, including, most recently, the rights of the LGBT community. Bond left a lasting legacy for us to explore, celebrate and continue. Whether it’s challenges to voting rights or inequity in education funding, many of the challenges he faced yesterday continue to plague our nation today. His lifelong fight for equality and justice must become our lifelong fight for the same. We can all become a part of his vision to create a more perfect union in our nation. Our prayers and heartfelt sympathy are with his family, along with our promise to continue Julian’s fight.

Marc H. Morial is president and CEO of the National Urban League.

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Julian Bond: A Dedicated Life Of Service


Horace Julian Bond was born Jan. 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tenn. into a family of privilege. His father, Horace Mann Bond, was a noted educator who served as president of Fort Valley State University in Georgia, where such notables as W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson were frequent guests.

During their formative years, most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), established during the Reconstruction Era to provide higher education for formerly enslaved African Americans, were headed by Whites. Bond’s father was the first Black president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, his alma mater. His mother, Julia, was a librarian.

Young Julian was sent off to George School, a private Quaker boarding school near Philadelphia, and later enrolled in Morehouse College. At Morehouse, Bond chose a life of activism that would become the hallmark of his life.

This is significant because many Blacks born into a life of privilege distanced themselves from the nascent Civil Rights Movement.

I remember how incensed I became when Condoleezza Rice boasted in a Washington Post interview that “My parents were very strategic. I was going to be so well prepared, and I was going to do all of these things that were revered in white society so well, that I would be armored somehow from racism…”

And it got worse, as I noted in a column on Rice.

Referring to Rev. John W. Rice, Jr., she said, “My father was not a march-in-the-street preacher. He saw no reason to put children at risk. He would never put his own child at risk.”

Julian Bond’s father, who had more blue blood credentials than Rev. Rice, obviously instilled a different set of values in him.

Bond dropped out of Morehouse College to join the Civil Rights Movement, first as co-founder of the Atlanta Student Movement that organized local sit-ins on the heels of the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C. He was also a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

It was in his capacity as communications director of SNCC that I first met Julian Bond during the summer of 1966, after I had completed my freshman year of college. I spent that summer as a volunteer in the Atlanta headquarters, watching him interact with the media and carefully polishing SNCC’s national image.

Julian also wrote poetry. I don’t remember many of his poems, but I still recall part of one we recited all summer:

Look at that girl shake that thing,?We can’t all be Martin Luther King.

Don’t ask me why I remember that nearly 50 years later.

In SNCC, Julian was not a key organizer, as some stories have suggested. The organization had legions of field organizers who became legends in the movement, including Bob Moses, Cleveland Sellers and Courtland Cox. Julian’s role was to communicate SNCC’s message to the media—and he did that well.

The incident that catapulted Bond to international fame was his opposition to the Vietnam War. Dr. King did not publicly turn against the Vietnam War until his speech at Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967, exactly a year before his assassination. In 1965, Julian was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. Shortly before he was scheduled to take office, he endorsed a statement by SNCC opposing the Vietnam War.

The Georgia House accused Bond of treason and refused to seat him. A federal appeals court upheld the decision. But on Dec. 5, 1966, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld his right to free speech or ordered Georgia to seat him. Bond spent two decades in the state House and Senate.

Perhaps his lowest point came when Bond and former SNCC chairman John Lewis competed for the same Congressional seat in Georgia. Bond’s estranged wife charged—and later recanted—that Julian was a habitual user of cocaine. Lewis challenged him to a urine test. Julian replied he would agree on one condition—that Lewis hold the cup. There was no drug test and John Lewis went on to defeat Bond and remains in office today.

In one of at least four tweets Lewis sent after Bond’s death, he said, “We went through a difficult period during our campaign for Congress in 1986, but many years ago we emerged even closer.”

Though he never ran for public office again, Julian Bond found other paths to public service, serving as board chairman of the NAACP for 11 years, being co-founder and a trustee of the Southern Poverty Law Center, hosting “America’s Black Forum” television program, teaching, and in demand on the lecture circuit.

Several years ago, Jesse Jackson, who is not prone to giving out compliments, said to me unprompted: “Julian is always right on public policy. I can’t think of one time I have disagreed with a position he has taken.”

For that, we all can all be grateful. And we can be grateful that instead of retreating to a life of privilege, Julian’s entire adult life was dedicated to fighting injustice.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site,

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People Still Can’t Breathe. Police Still Don’t Care


Little more than a year after the death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD, another man with a family and a case of asthma has been killed by a reckless police force. Troy Goode was visiting Mississippi for a concert. As many concert goers do, Goode got drunk. Goode’s wife, who was sober, began the drive home with Goode in the passenger seat. At some point, Goode exited his vehicle and began “acting erratically.” The police were called. Upon their arrival, Goode continued his drunken behavior opening up the door to the police K9 car, exciting their dog. The police subdued Goode and hogtied him, putting him face down onto a stretcher. Much like the Garner case, Goode informed police he couldn’t breathe and a bystander exclaimed what a bad idea the face down hogtie was. Two hours later the Goode family was informed Troy was dead.

The state medical examiner in charge of the case said in a preliminary statement that a hogtie was entirely unnecessary. The hogtie method of cuffing has been banned by many other police departments. The Southaven PD’s justification for its use thus far? According to Huffington Post, “He must have been on LSD or something.” Why is it that police, supposed peace officers, continually ignore the pleas for mercy of those they are charged with protecting? There has been no accountability for these types of incidents, as evidenced by the Garner case. One problem is the lack of incentive police have to truly serve their customers—the taxpayers. The state’s monopoly on law enforcement prevents the formation of any meaningful alternative. Furthermore, the state’s monopoly on the legal system all but ensures the abusive officers are never brought to justice.

As a result of the state’s protection racket, we have at least the fourth asthma-related death while someone was in the “care” of a “peace officer” within the past year. Beyond Garner and Goode, there’s also the tragic cases of Jermaine Darden and Casey Kressen. During a mistaken cocaine raid on Darden’s house, police pushed him to the ground and cuffed him on his stomach. His family begged the officers to stop, but they didn’t. Police ultimately used a stungun to subdue Darden, a 300 lb. man with cardiovascular issues, leading to his death. No charges were brought in the case.

In Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Casey Kressen’s wife was stopped for speeding by police while transporting her husband to the hospital during an asthma attack. A mere 3 miles from the local hospital, police detained the couple, preventing Kressen from receiving the urgent medical care he needed. An ambulance was called but did not show for 6 minutes, and Kressen died as a result of the delay.

These incidents highlight law enforcement’s utter disregard for the health and safety of its citizens. From these sad stories, we learn that police have a one size fits all approach to law enforcement. They apply brute force against those they arrest, regardless of how petty the alleged crime may be. Selling loose cigarettes, being drunk in public, mere possession of an illicit substance, and rushing your dying husband to the hospital—all small time “offenses” which police choose to crack down on to the peril of the offenders. As bodies pile up, we are told the killings are “inadvertent.”

It all leads us to wonder how we can possibly reshape the institution of American policing. I am on the side of scrapping the system entirely. I favor radical experimentation in the task of providing community safety. Police are simply not up for the job. The men and women in blue have declared indifference to the well being of everyone not in uniform. It’s time for those of us not in uniform to treat the police with the same skepticism and hostility we receive from them. Abolish the police before there is another Troy Goode, Eric Garner, Casey Kressen or Jermaine Darden in your city.

C4SS Contributing writer Ryan Calhoun is a Philosophy student and activist at the University at Buffalo.