Julian Bond

(1940 — 2015
In Memory)

SNCC, NAACP, 1960-2015

Nonviolence: An Interpretation.
Interview Excerpts
Oral History
The Southern Youth Movement Keynote Address, SNCC 50th Anniversary Commemoration (Julian's address begins about 25 minutes in)

Julian Bond Oral History Project


From his college days as a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to his present Chairmanship of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Julian Bond has been an active participant in the movements for civil rights, economic justice, and peace and an aggressive spokesman for the disinherited.

As an activist who has faced jail for his convictions, as a veteran of more than twenty years of service in the Georgia General Assembly, as a writer, teacher, and lecturer, Bond has been on the cutting edge of social change since he was a college student leading sit-in demonstrations in Atlanta in 1960.

Horace Julian Bond was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in January 1940. His father, the late Dr. Horace Mann Bond, was the first President of Fort Valley State College in Fort Valley, Georgia. In 1945, Dr. Bond became the first Black President of the country's oldest Black private college, Pennsylvania's Lincoln University, and the Bond family lived at Lincoln until 1957 when Dr. Bond became Dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University.

Julian Bond graduated from the George School, a co- educational Quaker school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1957, and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta that same year.

While at Morehouse, Bond won a varsity letter as a member of the Morehouse swimming team, helped to found a literary magazine called The Pegasus, and was an intern for Time magazine.

hile still a student, Bond was a founder in l960 of the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR), the Atlanta University Center student civil rights organization that directed three years of non-violent anti-segregation protests that won integration of Atlanta's movie theaters, lunch counters, and parks. Bond was arrested for sitting-in at the then-segregated cafeteria at Atlanta City Hall.

He was one of several hundred students from across the South who helped to form SNCC on Easter Weekend, 1960, and shortly thereafter became SNCC's Communications Director, heading the organization's printing and publicity departments, editing the SNCC newsletter, The Student Voice, and working in voter registration drives in rural Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Bond left Morehouse one semester short of graduation in 1961 to join the staff of a new protest newspaper, The Atlanta Inquirer. He later became the paper's managing editor.

Bond returned to Morehouse in 1971 to graduate, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Bond was first elected in 1965 to a one-year term in the Georgia House of Representatives in a special election following court- ordered reapportionment of the legislature, but members of the House voted not to seat him because of his outspoken opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Bond won a second election, to fill his vacant seat, in 1966, and again the Georgia House voted to bar him from membership. He won a third election, this time for a two-year term, in November, 1966, and in December the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Georgia House had violated Bond's rights in refusing him his seat.

Bond ultimately served four terms in the House and six terms in the Senate. In the Senate, Bond became the first Black Chair of the Fulton County Senate Delegation, the largest and most diverse in the upper house, and was Chairman of the Committee on Consumer Affairs and a member of the Committees on Human Resources, Governmental Operations, and Children and Youth.

During his service in the Georgia General Assembly, Bond was sponsor or co-sponsor of more than 60 bills which became law, including a pioneer sickle cell anemia testing program, authorization of a minority set-aside program for Fulton County, and a state-wide program providing low-interest home loans to low income Georgians. He waged a successful two-year fight in the legislature and the courts to create a majority black congressional district in Atlanta and organized the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, then the nation's largest.

In 1968, Bond was Co-Chairman of the Georgia Loyal National Delegation to the Democratic Convention. The Loyalists, an insurgent group, were successful in unseating the handpicked regulars, and Bond was nominated for Vice-President of the United States, the first Black to be so honored by a major political party. He withdrew his name because he was too young to serve.

He holds honorary degrees from twenty-three schools, including Dalhousie University, University of Bridgeport, Wesleyan University, University of Oregon, Syracuse University, Eastern Michigan University, Lincoln University (PA), Wilberforce College, Patterson State College, New Hampshire College, Detroit Institute of Technology, Tuskegee Institute, Howard University, Edward Waters College, Morgan State University, Gonzaga School of Law, Bates College, California State University at Monterey Bay, Northeastern University, Audrey Cohen College, Washington University, Susquehanna University, and Ramapo College.

Bond is Chairman of the Premier Auto Group (PAG) (Volvo, Land Rover, Aston-Martin, Jaguar) Diversity Council and on the Advisory Boards of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Corporation for Maintaining Editorial Diversity in America, the Nicaragua/Honduras Education Project, the Earth Communications Office, the National Federation for Neighborhood Diversity, the Southern Africa Media Center, the Joan Shorenstein Barone Center of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Center for Visionary Thought Advisory Team and on the Advisory Committees of the American Committee on Africa and the Human Rights Defense Fund.

Bond has served four terms on the NAACP National Board and since l998 has been Board Chairman. He is on the Advisory Board of the Harvard Business School Initiative on Social Enterprise, the Oliver White Hill Foundation, the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and the Board of the NAACP's Magazine, the Crisis, and the Council for a Livable World. He was President of the Atlanta NAACP from 1978 until 1989. He is President Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center and currently serves on its Board.

Bond was President and Founder of the Southern Elections Fund (SEF), an early political action committee which aided in the election of rural Southern black candidates. Bond has served on the Board of Directors of the Delta Ministry Project of the National Council of Churches, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fund, Center for Community Change, Highlander Research and Education Center, Center for Democratic Renewal, National Sharecropper's Fund, Southern Regional Council, Southerners for Economic Justice, New Democratic Coalition, the Village Foundation, and the Board of Selectors for the American Institute for Public Service.

Bond has been host and commentator on "America's Black Forum," the oldest Black-owned show in television syndication, since l980, and was a commentator for radio's "Byline," syndicated to over 200 stations. He has been a commentator on the "Today" show and was the author of a nationally syndicated newspaper column called Viewpoint. In 1978, he was host of "Global Paper: The Fight for Food," a three-part public television probe of the world food crisis. He hosted the popular television show, "Saturday Night Live," in April 1977 and has appeared in three movies. Bond was narrator of the Westinghouse (Group W) television series "Rush Toward Freedom" and the critically acclaimed 1987 and 1990 PBS series, "Eyes on the Prize." He narrated "Where Once We Stood," produced by the University of Alabama Television Services for Alabama Public Television in 1989, a 1989 PBS show on the life of New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, a 1991 film on the life of artist Henry Ossawa Tanner, and a l994 Academy Award winning documentary, "A Time For Justice." In 1996, he was writer/narrator of a 4-part National Public Radio documentary "Crossing the Color Line: from Rhythm 'n Blues to Rock 'n Roll."

Time Magazine named Bond on its 200 Leaders list. In 1984, he received the Legislative Service Award from the Georgia Municipal Association "In Recognition of Outstanding Service to Cities." He received the 1985 Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. He received the 1999 James Weldon Johnson Award and a Good Guy Award from the National Women's Political Caucus in 2000. In 2002, he received the prestigious National Freedom Award and the Eugene V. Debs Award.

He has been a Research Associate of the Voter Education Project, a founding member of the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition, and a Visiting Fellow of the Metropolitan Applied Research Center of New York City. He is an Honorary Trustee of the Institute of Applied Politics; an Associate Fellow of Calhoun College, Yale University; a Charter Member of the Georgia Arts Caucus; a Founding Member of the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry; a member of the Southern Correspondents Reporting Racial Equality Wars; the Commission on the Democratic Selection of Presidential Nominees, 1968; the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFL-CIO); League of Women Voters; Morehouse College Alumni Association; St. James Lodge No. 4, Prince Hall Masons; and the I.P.F.U.

A collection of Bond's essays has been published under the title A Time To Speak, A Time To Act. He is the author of Black Candidates - Southern Campaign Experiences. His poems and articles have appeared in The Nation, Negro Digest, Motive, Rights & Reviews, Life, Playboy, Freedomways, Exposure, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ramparts, Beyond the Blues, New Negro Poets, American Negro Poetry, The Book of Negro Humor, the Los Angeles Times, the Hartford Courant, the Atlanta Constitution, and Southern Changes. With Andrew J. Lewis, he is editor of Gonna Sit At The Welcome Table, and with Sondra K. Wilson, co-editor of Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Bond's teaching experience includes being a Pappas Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and a Visiting Professor at Drexel University, Harvard University, and Williams College. He is currently a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American University in Washington, D.C., and a Professor at the University of Virginia in the Department of History, where he is co-director of Explorations in Black Leadership.

(Revised November, 2002.)

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