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Julian Bond

July 2, 2016

The 60s Civil Rights Movement has a Bond too and his name was Julian. Please join us in wishing a living legend a Happy 74th Birthday. Horace Julian Bond (born January 14, 1940). He is an American social activist and leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped to establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bond was elected to four terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and later to six terms in the Georgia Senate, having served a combined twenty years in both legislative chambers. From 1998 to 2010, he was chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Bond was born at Hubbard Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee to parents Julia Agnes Washington and Horace Mann Bond. His father, Horace, was a university educator. His mother, Julia, was a former librarian at Clark Atlanta University. At the time, the family resided on campus at Fort Valley State College, where was president. The house of the Bonds was a frequent stop for scholars and activists and celebrities passing by, such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson. In 1945 his father was offered the position as the first African-American president of Lincoln University, and the family moved up North.

In 1957, Bond graduated from George School, a private Quaker preparatory boarding school near Newtown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

On April 17, 1960, Bond helped co-found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He served as the communications director of the SNCC from January 1961 to September 1966, where he traveled around Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas to help organize civil rights and voter registration drives. From 1960 to 1963, he led student protests against segregation in public facilities and the Jim Crow laws of Georgia. Bond left Morehouse College in 1961, and returned to complete his Bachelor of Arts in English in 1971 at age 31. With Morris Dees, Bond helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a public-interest law firm based in Montgomery, Alabama. He served as its president from 1971 to 1979. Bond continues to serve on the board of directors of the SPLC.

In 1965, Bond was one of eleven African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act; subsequently increasing the percentage of African-American voters. But on January 10, 1966, Georgia state representatives voted 184-12 not to seat him because he had publicly endorsed SNCC’s policy regarding opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. They disliked Bond’s stated sympathy for persons who were “unwilling to respond to a military draft”. A three judge panel on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled in 2-1 decision that the Georgia House had not violated any of Bond’s constitutional rights. In 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in the case of Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116) that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Bond his freedom of speech and was required to seat him.

From 1967 to 1975, Bond was elected to four terms as a Democratic member in the Georgia House. There he organized the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. In January 1967, Bond was among eleven House members who refused to vote when the legislature elected segregationist Lester Maddox of Atlanta as governor of Georgia over the Republican Howard Callaway. Callaway had led in the 1966 general election by some three thousand votes. The choice fell on state lawmakers under the Georgia Constitution of 1824 because neither major party candidate had polled a majority in the general election. Former Governor Ellis Arnall polled more than fifty thousand votes as a write-in candidate, a factor which led to the impasse. Bond would not support either Maddox or Callaway, although he was ordered to vote by lame duck Lieutenant Governor Peter Zack Geer.

Throughout his House career, Bond’s district was repeatedly redistricted: 1967–69: 136th, 1969–73: 111th and 1973–74: 32nd. He went on to be elected for six terms in the Georgia Senate, in which he served from 1975 to 1987.

During the 1968 presidential election, Bond led an alternate delegation from Georgia to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. There, contrary to his intentions, he became the first African American to be proposed as a major-party candidate for Vice President of the United States. While expressing gratitude for the honor, the 28-year-old Bond quickly declined, citing the constitutional requirement that one must be at least 35 years of age to serve in that office.

Bond resigned from the Georgia Senate in 1987 to run for the United States House of Representatives from Georgia’s 5th congressional district. He lost the Democratic nomination in a runoff to rival civil rights leader John Lewis in a bitter contest, during which Bond was accused of using cocaine and other drugs. As the 5th district had a huge Democratic majority, the nomination delivered the seat to Lewis, who still serves in Congress.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Bond taught at several universities in major cities in the North and South, including American, Drexel, Harvard, and the University of Virginia. In 1998, Bond was selected as chairman of the NAACP. In November 2008, he announced that he would not seek another term as chairman. Bond agreed to stay on in the position through 2009, as the organization celebrated its 100th anniversary. Roslyn M. Brock was chosen as Bond’s successor on February 20, 2010. He continues to write and lecture about the history of the civil rights movement, and the condition of African Americans and the poor. He is President Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

From 1980 to 1997 he hosted America’s Black Forum. He remains a commentator for the Forum, as well as radio’s Byline, and for NBC’s The Today Show. He authored the nationally syndicated newspaper column Viewpoint. He narrated the critically acclaimed PBS series Eyes on the Prize in 1987 and 1990.

Julian Bond and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at a rally opposing a ballot initiative aimed at prohibiting same-sex marriage in that state in June 2012. Bond has been an outspoken supporter of the rights of gays and lesbians. He has publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage. Most notably, he boycotted the funeral services for Coretta Scott King on the grounds that the King children had chosen an anti-gay megachurch. This was in conflict with their mother’s longstanding support for the rights of gay and lesbian people. In a 2005 speech in Richmond, VA, Bond stated: African Americans … were the only Americans who were enslaved for two centuries, but we were far from the only Americans suffering discrimination then and now…. Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.

In a 2007 speech on the Martin Luther King Day Celebration at Clayton State University in Morrow, GA, Bond said, “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married.” His positions pitted elements of the NAACP against religious groups in the Black Civil Rights movement who oppose gay marriage. Most resistance came from within the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which was partially blamed for the success of the recent gay marriage ban amendment in California.

Today, Bond is a Distinguished Professor in Residence at American University in Washington, D.C. He also is a faculty member in the history department at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he teaches history of the Civil Rights Movement.

In January 2007, he delivered the annual Martin Luther King lecture at Siena College. He is a strong critic of policies that contribute to anthropogenic climate change and was amongst a group of protesters arrested at the White House for civil disobedience in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline in February 2013. Bond is on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service.

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