Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1940 to an educator and librarian, Bond would go on earn an English degree and achieve great heights as a voice to the voiceless throughout the spectrum of humanity.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) co-founder Morris Dee released the following statement:
“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, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.”
Progressive organizations throughout the country have been expressing deep sorrow at hearing the passing of a cross-generational civil rights icon. President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute Clayola Brown called Bond “one of the architects of the Black Lives Matter movement before there was a hashtag.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, framed Bond’s legacy this way:
“Quite simply, this nation and this world are far better because of his life and commitment to justice and equality for all people. Future generations will look back on the life and legacy of Julian Bond and see a warrior of good who helped conquer hate in the name of love. I will greatly miss my friend and my hero, Dr Julian Bond.”
Vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama offered his condolences:
“Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life. Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.”
Mr. Bond spent a lifetime being an exemplar of the fact that believing black lives matter does not in any way inhibit or preclude ones ability to fight and oppose discrimination on behalf of oppressed people whoever the human body, and wherever the injustice. As the world mourns this terrible lost, Wear Your Voice presents this list of memorable reasons why the life and spirit of Julian Bond will never be forgotten.
1. In 1962, the future civil rights leader was former student of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He enrolled in King’s “Social Philosophy” course at Morehouse. “A lot of people will tell you they are a student of Martin Luther King,” Bond once told a group at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “But Martin Luther King Jr. only taught one class in his lifetime. There were only eight students in that class. I was one of the eight.”
2. While a student at Morehouse College in 1960, he helped found Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
3. He was the first African American nominated for vice president of the United States, but was forced to withdraw because he didn’t meet the age requirement.
4. In 1965, he was voted to the Georgia House of Representatives, but was refused his seat because of his stance on the Vietnam War. He was denied his seat for two years, during which time he’d taken his case to the Supreme Court.
5. He ran and won a heated race against John Lewis for a seat in the Georgia State Senate. (Lewis would later defeat Bond in a U.S. House of Representative race).
6. During his tenure as senator (1975-1986), he authored 60 bills that were approved by his colleagues.
7. Resurrecting a historical civil rights organization, he served as chairman of the NAACP for 10 years, with a 500,000 membership.
8. He worked as professor of politics at American University and would often linger after class to smoke a cigarette and chat with students about the civil rights movement.
9. Long before the landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, he championed equal rights for LGBT couples in Maryland.
10. He was president of SPLC for eight years (1971-1979), and was president emeritus at the time of his death.
Bond leaves behind a wife, Pamela Horowitz, former staff attorney for SPLC; five children — Phyllis Jane Bond-McMillan, Horace Mann Bond II, Michael Julian Bond, Jeffrey Alvin Bond, and Julia Louise Bond; and one brother and sister, James Bond and Jane Bond Moore.
Read the full SPLC statement here.