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Remembering a Civil Rights Leader

February 18, 2016
Julian Bond being sworn into the Georgia House of Representatives

Black History Month offers a time of reflection to remember the important contributions made by African-Americans to American history. While many take this time to extoll the wonderful work of Martin Luther King Jr., Booker T. Washington or W.E.B Dubois, I want to take this time to remember a man who I hold in high regard.

Julian Bond is a man who we lost recently, but one who fought tirelessly for civil rights.

While Bond was not born in Georgia, he certainly made it home. His parents were both active in academia with his mother being a librarian at Spelman, while his father was the President of Fort Valley State University. In 1957, Bond attended Morehouse University where he was an outspoken advocate for civil rights.

Julian Bond was a man who dedicated his life to achieving equality for African-Americans. He was a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In this capacity, Bond helped organize events all over the South and saw first-hand the oppression and social poverty inflicted upon African-American communities.

In 1965, right after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1964, Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. He was at first barred from attaining his seat due to his opposition of the Vietnam War but was finally seated through a Supreme Court decision in 1967. By doing so, Bond was on the leading edge of a new wave of political engagement by the African-American community. This marked the beginning of Bond’s twenty years of political service in both the State House and Senate.

In addition to his work as a policy maker, Bond was also an outspoken political activist. In his later years, he served as president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bond was also President of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a position he held until 2010.  He remained very active in local and national politics, especially on civil rights issues, until his death in 2015.

In the current General Assembly, we are working hard to continue the legacy that Bond left behind. We look to inspiration from those who, like Bond, fought with every last breath to make sure that our work results in a better state and a better life for our children. We wish to continue the legacy of Julian Bond and expand upon the civil rights legislation he spent his whole life fighting to support.

Julian Bond was a man with a steadfast determination that through nonviolent activism equality can be achieved. We are not there yet, but men like Bond paved a path that we continue to work on today. I hope that through remembering Julian Bond, who stopped at nothing to make his vision of the future more of a reality, we can continue down that path and towards a better future.

Photo of Julian Bond (middle) being sworn into the Georgia House on January 8, 1973, Courtesy of the New Georgia Encyclopedia

About the Author

Sen. Harold V. Jones II represents the 22nd district which includes portions of Richmond County.  He may be reached by email at harold.jones@senate.ga.gov.