Former State Sen. Julian Bond, 1940-2015, !Presente!
Photograph by Eduardo Montes-Bradley.
(APN) ATLANTA — Former State Sen. Horace Julian Bond (D-Atlanta), a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, has passed away, on Saturday, August 15, 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced this morning, Sunday, August 16.
In 1965, Bond was one of eleven Black candidates elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965 had opened voter registration to Blacks.
The Georgia House refused to seat him in 1966 due to his opposition to the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, but in a lawsuit, Bond v. Floyd, which Mr. Bond brought all the way up to the Supreme Court of the U.S., the court ruled that the House had denied Bond his First Amendment right to free speech.
Bond served in the Georgia House from 1967 to 1974, and in the Georgia Senate from 1975 to 1987.
“As the first black chair of the Fulton County Delegation and chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee, he [Bond] sponsored more than 60 bills that became law,” the Center for Responsible Lending wrote in a statement.
In 1987, Bond ran against John Lewis for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Congress; Lewis won the nomination in what was a bitter contest.
While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped to establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Bond served as the SPLC’s first president from 1971 to 1979.
From 1998 to 2009, Bond served as Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
He taught at many universities, including American, Drexel, Harvard, and the University of Virginia. He taught history at the University of Virginia until recently retiring in 2013.
Bond has long been a strong champion of LGBTQ equality and rights, including same-sex marriage.
One of Bond’s five children, Michael Julian Bond, currently serves as a City Councilman for Atlanta’s Post 1-at-large seat.
“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,” the SPLC said in a statement.
“It’s just heartbreaking. We were best friends for 55 years,” Connie Curry told APN.
Curry introduced APN’s News Editor to Bond in 2005, and Bond became an avid reader of APN. APN’s first op-ed was an op-ed written by Bond in 2005.
“I met him in 1960, when I got involved with the Atlanta Student Movement, and we stayed friends for all these years,” Curry said.
“He was at Morehouse, he and Lonnie King had a sit-in at Atlanta City Hall cafeteria and at Rich’s Department Store and a lot of places,” Curry said.
“They even tried to have a sit in at Lestor Maddox’s at one point,” Curry said.
Curry said an unknown fact about Bond is: “He and I went to comedy school. Jerry Farber had a comedy school and cafe where he did comedy shows. Julian and I had been telling each other jokes for years, in 1984 he and I went to comedy school together,” Curry said.
“We both had a good sense of humor; and also, he was always so non-boastful, he was not brash… [or an] open, attention-getter like a lot of other… it was his gentle personality. He was so strong and so smart and so well-spoken,” Curry said.
Curry said that Bond was a principled leader.
“I was so proud when he became chair of the NAACP, he got them on the track of understanding what the issues were, whether it was Black men going to prison, he really brought the NAACP up to date,” Curry said.
“I knew the Bond family through my parents, who were both in the Civil Rights Movement. When I was a junior in high school, Julian Bond had announced he was running for President. That was the first political campaign I volunteered on… in 1976,” Carlotta Harrell, who has run for Henry County Commission and State School Superintendent, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“The campaign office and his brother’s office, James Bond had an office, near Morehouse College. They ran the campaign out of that office. I would go over there after school and volunteer,” Harrell said.
“He was going to run in 1976, but after months of trying to get where you needed to go, he actually withdrew and never actually participated in that run,” Harrell said.
“It was a great experience, being able to work with someone that been involved in the Civil Rights Movement during his young years and being able, myself as a teenager to come and be able to work on his campaign. I consider it a great honor and privilege to have been given that opportunity as a young kid,” Harrell said.
“During that time, he was a rising star, and me looking as a young person myself, I felt, why could he not be President? For everything that he had done during the civil rights era, registering people to vote… him being a young man out there on the forefront trying to get people to exercise their right to vote,” Harrell said.
“I think that he was really a mentor in a sense because that’s how I really got interested in the political process, just watching him, I think he was a great leader,” Harrell said.
“I knew him when he was here (in Atlanta). We supported him and went to a number of campaign organizing events back in the day,” Anita Beaty, Executive Director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, said, referring to herself, her husband Jim Beaty, and Connie Curry.
“He was an elegant, articulate, brilliant, civil rights champion. I thought he would represent us all well,” Beaty said.
“I always admired Mr. Bond. I just thought he had a full life of service. I was shocked to learn he passed on, but it was a life well-lived. We have a better world because of Julian Bond,” Joe Beasley said.
“His kids, at least I know Michael had great admiration for his dad, and he’s taken on in City Council the political side of his Dad’s legacy,” Beasley said.
“The one thing we don’t know, if he’d won Congress, he might have remained in Georgia, but he lost that race, moved on, and became chairman of the NAACP, which was a wonderful thing,” Beasley said.
“Julian Bond was a passionate and charismatic human rights activist; a trans-formative and triumphant civil rights leader whose eloquent voice made him a symbol and iconic figure of the 1960’s civil rights movement. I am saddened by his sudden death, but heartened by the dynamic life he lived and difference his considerable contributions made for all Americans. I applaud his laudatory work… Julian Bond will be remembered and revered as one of the leading lights of our nation’s civil rights movement,” Dr. Charles Steele, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said in a statement.
“Last night, our nation lost one of the great heroes of the civil rights movement. From the first days of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to his leadership of the NAACP, Julian Bond’s courage, vision and energy helped America move closer to fulfilling its promise – and he never left the front lines of the fight for change,” House Minority Leader, State Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said in a statement.
“Julian Bond was a State Senator when I first walked into the Georgia Capitol as an advocate for low income citizens. He was immediately kind, helpful, and daily leader for the right causes. Elegant, intelligent, and fun. Later, when I lived in Boston, I went to hear him speak at Harvard, and saw and experienced him as the national leader that he was throughout his life. I am grateful to have known him, and more importantly, for his life of service,” State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) said on Facebook.
“It is with great sadness that I acknowledge and announce for some the passing of civil rights stalwart Julian Bond. He never bent on his commitment to Civil/Human Rights for all. Julian almost made it to Congress; he failed to make it there because he did not bend to the special interests,” former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) said.
“He was progressive, he was left-wing, he was a fierce agitator and advocate for the rights of the poor and the downtrodden,” Maynard Eaton, journalist and publicist, said.
“He matured to become chairman of the staid and conservative NAACP. He was a conundrum in a sense – he was the Al Sharpton of his day. But he never lost his charm and charisma,” Eaton said.
“That race between Julian Bond and John Lewis was one for the history books. That was a classical confrontation, two civil rights figures. He could have gone to Washington as a Congressman, but took a turn and became easily as influential as a citizen,” Eaton said.
Bond is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz; a brother, James Bond; a sister, Jane Bond Moore; five children, Phyllis Jane Bond-McMillan, Horace Mann Bond II, Jeffrey Alvin Bond, Michael Julian Bond, and Julia Louise “Cookie” Bond; and eight grandchildren.
“They’re gonna have a memorial service in Washington for him. Whether we’re going to try to do anything here [in Atlanta] I don’t know,” James Bond said.