Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Julian Bond: 1940-2015

In 1988, when Jesse Jackson was making his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, one of his peers from the civil rights movement came to Drew University in New Jersey, where I was a senior.  His temperament was more reserved than Jackson's, but his eloquence in professing his disgust and outrage with the atrocious civil rights record of the incumbent presidential administration ostensibly led by Ronald Reagan was no less forceful.  Having heard Julian Bond speak, I left the great assembly room in Bowne Hall thinking, "This man should be the first black President!"   
Bond, who died recently at 75,  was a dominant leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s who never rested on his laurels and led the fight for social justice long after "mainstream" America decided some time in the early seventies that such a goal had been achieved. A co-founder and leader of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (and also its communications director),  he helped lead the demonstrations and protests in the South that brought down legal discrimination, and later he was the NAACP's board chairman.  He was always on the front lines of civil rights, fighting the emaciation of civil-rights laws in the eighties and involving himself in the aftermath of the Ferguson situation.  A onetime member of the Georgia state legislature, he helped pave the way for other black legislators, as well as black elected executives - Doug Wilder, Deval Patrick, the current White House occupant - by encouraging blacks to get involved in the democratic process.    
Bond leaves behind an astonishing record of accomplishment, and he achieved more in a year than others achieve in a lifetime.  I'm sorry he never thought to run for President, but he found other, more rewarding ways to lead.  RIP.   

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