By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Julian Bond, 75, one of the original founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a close aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and former chairman of the N.A.A.C.P. died on August 15 in Fort Walton Beach, Fla..
Bond, according to his wife Pamela Sue Horowitz, died of complications from vascular disease. His death was announced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group he helped co-found.
On Monday night (August 17), TV One’s New One Now, the only daily news program targeting Black viewers, dedicated its entire show to Bond’s passing. NAACP executive leaders Cornell Brooks, President and CEO, and Roslyn Brock, Chairman of the National Board of Directors; National Urban League President and Chief Executive Officer Marc. H. Morial; Founder and President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.; and Charles E. Cobb, Jr., professor and former activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; among others, joined News One Now host and managing editor Roland S. Martin to celebrate and pay tribute to Bond’s life’s work and contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
Bond was one of the original leaders of SNCC while a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, serving as its communications director. He fed Black and White news media the stories of violence and discrimination as SNCC challenged legal segregation in the South’s public facilities.
“I was truly saddened to learn of the passing of Horace Julian Bond,” said Virginia Congressman Robert Scott in a statement to the press.
Scott said Bond benefited from a movement he helped lead when he was elected to the Georgia State House and Senate.
“He made many other contributions as a professor, social activist and commentator,” Scott continued.
”Our country has clearly seen many improvements as a direct result of Julian’s body of work. My thoughts and prayers are with Julian’s family, his longtime friends and supporters.”
President Barack H. Obama called Bond “a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend.”
“Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life,” Mr. Obama said. “Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network (NAN), said, .”.. the country has lost a champion for human rights. The work of Mr. Bond will be missed but not forgotten as we march forward for civil rights.”
Bond moved from direct activism to leadership of the N.A.A.C.P.
Along the way, Bond, a highly intelligent writer, poet, lecturer and college teacher, remained a persistent opponent of the stubborn remnants of White supremacy.
Bond sustained a credible voice for equality. In recent years in his support for LGBT rights, including marriage equality, despite opposition from Black church leaders.
Bond and Morris Dees founded the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy center where he was its president from 1971 to 1979. He remained on its board until his death.
In 1968 he was nominated for Vice President at the Democratic National Convention, where he was a co-chairman of a racially integrated challenge delegation from Georgia, although he was not old enough at the time.
He served 20 years in the Georgia State House of Representatives starting in 1965, along with seven other Blacks.
White members of the House refused to let him take his seat because he opposed the nation’s military action in Vietnam.
In 1966, the Supreme Court ordered the State Assembly to seat him, saying it had denied him freedom of speech.
Lewis, a fellow founder of SNCC, and Bond were personally close, but had different backgrounds: Lewis, the son of a sharecroppers; Bond, the offspring of a college president.
He left the State Senate in 1986 after six terms to run for a seat in the United States House in 1986 against his friend John Lewis, which he lost.
Lewis posted on Twitter: “We went through a difficult period during our campaign for Congress in 1986, but many years ago we emerged even closer.” In another message, he wrote, “Julian Bond’s leadership and his spirit will be deeply missed.”
He was made chairman of the N.A.A.C.P. in 1998. He remained active in Democratic Party politics and was a strong critic of the administration of President George W. Bush.
The only scandal to touch Bond was accusation from his former wife Alice that he used cocaine, which prompted what is believed to be a politically inspired effort to destroy his career. His wife later refused to testify before a grand jury and the investigation was dropped.
Horace Julian Bond was born on Jan. 14, 1940, in Nashville, to Horace Mann Bond and the former Julia Washington. The family moved to Pennsylvania when his father became the first African-American president of his alma mater, Lincoln University.
At age 12, Julian was sent to the private Quaker-run George School near Philadelphia. It was there that he first encountered racial resentment when he began dating a White girl, incurring the wrath of White students and school authorities.
At Morehouse College, he plunged into extracurricular activities and the civil rights movement provided a good excuse to drop out of college in 1961.
He returned in the early 1970s to complete his English degree.
Dozens of his friends went to jail during his time with SNCC, but he was arrested only once. In 1960, after word of student sit-ins at lunch counters in Greensboro, N.C., spread across the South. Bond and a few of his friends at Morehouse organized protests against segregated public facilities in Atlanta and worked to register Blacks to vote in the South.
Bond and Lewis left SNCC after its leadership was taken over by Black Power advocates who forced Whites out of the organization.
He taught at Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, American University, and he was a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where he was co-director of the oral history project Explorations in Black Leadership.
In addition to his second wife, a former lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, he is survived by three sons, Horace Mann Bond II, Jeffrey and Michael; two daughters, Phyllis Jane Bond McMillan and Julia Louise Bond; a sister, Jane; a brother, James; and eight grandchildren.