Tag: Horace Mann Bond

R.I.P. Civil Rights Movement Activist, SNCC Leader and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond

Julian Bond at the N.A.A.C.P.’s annual convention in 2007. CreditPaul Sancya/Associated Press 

Julian Bond, a former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a charismatic figure of the 1960s civil rights movement, a lightning rod of the anti-Vietnam War campaign and a lifelong champion of equal rights for minorities, died on Saturday night, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was 75.

Mr. Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., after a brief illness, the center said in a statement Sunday morning.

He was one of the original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) while he was a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

He moved from the militancy of the student group to the top leadership of the establishmentarian N.A.A.C.P. Along the way, he was a writer, poet, television commentator, lecturer, college teacher, and persistent opponent of the stubborn remnants of white supremacy.

He also served for 20 years in the Georgia Legislature, mostly in conspicuous isolation from white colleagues who saw him as an interloper and a rabble-rouser.

Mr. Bond’s wit, cool personality and youthful face became familiar to millions of television viewers during the 1960s and 1970s. He attracted adjectives — dashing, handsome, urbane — the way some people attract money.

On the strength of his personality and quick intellect, he moved to the center of the civil rights action in Atlanta, the unofficial capital of the movement, at the height of the struggle for racial equality in the early 1960s.

Moving beyond demonstrations, he became a founder, with Morris Dees, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization in Montgomery, Ala. Mr. Bond was its president from 1971 to 1979 and remained on its board for the rest of his life.

When he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965 — along with seven other black members — furious white members of the House refused to let him take his seat, accusing him of disloyalty. He was already well known because of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s stand against the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.

That touched off a national drama that ended in 1966, when the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision ordered the legislature to seat him, saying it had denied him freedom of speech.

He went on to serve 20 years in the two houses of the legislature. As a lawmaker, he sponsored bills to establish a sickle cell anemia testing program and to provide low-interest home loans to low-income Georgians. He also helped create a majority-black congressional district in Atlanta.

He left the State Senate in 1986 after six terms to run for that seat in the United States House. He lost a bitter contest to his old friend John Lewis, a fellow founder of S.N.C.C. and its longtime chairman. The two men, for all their earlier closeness in the rights movement, represented opposite poles of African-American life in the South: Mr. Lewis was the son of an sharecropper; Mr. Bond was the son of a college president.

In a statement Sunday, President Obama called Mr. Bond “a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend.”

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