The Legacy Of Julian Bond

by SAM P.K. COLLINS –

julian bond

Civil rights leaders, activists, lawmakers, and students of history are mourning the death of lifelong civil rights leader Julian Bond, who passed away at the age of 75 on Saturday in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida after a brief illness.

“With Julian’s passing, 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,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization Bond co-founded with late journalist Morris Dees that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation, wrote in a press release. “[I]ndeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.”

Bond, also former board chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), counted among the frontrunners of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, later shifting his focus to the struggles of people of color abroad.

In the mid-1960s, lawmakers contested his election to the Georgia House of Representatives because of his opposition to the Vietnam War before the Supreme Court called their actions unconstitutional. Decades later, Bond clashed with police officers on the steps of the South African Embassy during an anti-apartheid protest.

Bond later went on to serve six terms in the Georgia House of Representatives, leading campaigns to register black voters, create a majority-black congressional district, and launch a program that would give low-interest loans to people of color. During and well after his tenure with the NAACP, Bond educated the American public about the Civil Rights Movement and led discussions about the contemporary African-American struggle. Bond spent his last years lecturing at Harvard University, Drexel University, and University of Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, the White House released a statement:

“Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life — from his leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to his founding role with the Southern Poverty Law Center, to his pioneering service in the Georgia legislature and his steady hand at the helm of the NAACP,” President Barack Obama said. “Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.”

Bond, survived by his second wife, Pamela Sue Horowitz, a retired lawyer, and five children, vocally supported police reform laws. He told an audience at Brandeis University that departments should revamp polices around the recruitment, selection, and training of police officers. “It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible,” to change the culture of policing, he said. “One thing — officers should live in the city where they police.”

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress 

 

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