RIP Brother Bond

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It was difficult reading this announcement from Morris Dees, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

We’ve lost a champion

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary civil rights activist Julian Bond, SPLC’s first president. He was 75 years old and died last evening, August 15, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

From his days as the co-founder and communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s to his chairmanship of the NAACP in the 21st century, Julian was a visionary and tireless champion for civil and human rights. He served as the SPLC’s president from our founding in 1971 to 1979, and later as a member of its board of directors.

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.

Julian is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, a former SPLC staff attorney, and his five children.

Not only has the country lost a hero today, we’ve lost a great friend.

For those of us of a certain age, Julian Bond was always a part of our civil rights landscape of struggle. Tributes have poured in from many people around the globe who have been touched by his activism, including one from President Obama.

I thought it would be fitting to share many of the materials that are readily available online about his life and work.

A Conversation with Julian Bond was produced by Stanford University’s Black Community Services Center.

Julian Bond is an American social activist and a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. Mr. Bond helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the early 1960s; was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center; served 20 years in both houses of the Georgia Legislature; and from 1998 to 2010, served as chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Mr. Bond is also an author of books, the creator of a comic book, and a poet.

Hosted by: Judge LaDoris H. Cordell

He was recently the subject of a short film (34 minutes).

Trailer of the movie “JULIAN BOND: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement.” A Film by Eduardo Montes-Bradley. Distributed by Filmakers Library an imprint of Alexander Street Press.

Notes: This enlightening portrait joins African American social activist Julian Bond as he traces his roots back to slavery. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Julian Bond was among the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a leader of the 1963 March on Washington, and a Georgia legislator for twenty years. Now in his seventies, Bond recalls the experience of growing up in the segregated south, where his parents’ belief in hard work and education lifted the family out of what he describes as an apartheid system…

Julian Bond’s recollections chronicle several turbulent decades of American history, as society was evolving to allow more opportunity to African Americans.

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A Time to Speak, A Time to Act, is a collection of essays by Julain Bond. Many people are not aware that he created a comic book “Vietnam,” in 1967, which was illustrated by T.G. Lewis.

Julian Bond’s ‘Comic’ Stance on the Vietnam War
Civil rights activist, organizer, speaker and comic book author? Yes, Julian Bond created a comic book to express his displeasure with the war in Vietnam

The 20-page, black-and-white comic book (the cover seems lost; so 19 pages are available online) begins with listing all of the black American leaders—from King to Adam Clayton Powell Jr.—who opposed the war in Vietnam.

Then Bond summarizes what he feels is the average black man’s view in 1967: that the fight for democracy was here in America, not in Southeast Asia.

“One out of every ten young men in America is a Negro,” Bond writes. “But two out of every five men killed in Vietnam is a Negro.”

Bond points out that while blacks were fighting in the Civil War for their right to not be enslaved, the French were fighting to colonize Vietnam.

He narrated A Time For Justice.

A Time for Justice is a 1994 American short documentary film produced by Charles Guggenheim. It won an Academy Award in 1995 for Documentary Short Subject. The film was produced by Guggenheim and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This 38-minute film, narrated by Julian Bond and featuring John Lewis, presents a short history of the Civil Rights Movement using historical footage and spoken accounts of participants. Events recounted are the Montgomery Bus Boycott; school integration in Little Rock, Arkansas; demonstrations in Birmingham; and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights.

Bond hosted an interview series with many black leaders and activists, many of which I’ve used in the classroom.

Explorations in Black Leadership Series, for the University of Virginia, Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Between 2000 and 2014, more than fifty African American leaders agreed to participate in a videotaped interview to share their thoughts about black leadership in America.

You can watch most of the interviews, conducted by Bond, on YouTube.

Julian Bond was also an outspoken advocate for LBGT rights.

It is impossible to list all of his contributions here today.

Let us simply say, that he made a difference. A path we can all attempt to follow.

Thank you Brother Bond.



  1. It was a real learning experience for me – refreshing my memories of his long history of activism, and also learning things I didn’t know about his life.

  2. Thank you for this. I started gathering links to stories over the weekend to read so that I would understand his life and his contributions … I didn’t even know where to begin. He was a giant.

    Some Tweets from John Lewis:

    John Lewis ‏@repjohnlewis Aug 16
    Julian Bond was one of a kind. We worked together in the Civil Rights Movement and he became one of my closest and dearest friends.

    John Lewis ‏@repjohnlewis Aug 16
    Julian Bond’s leadership and his spirit will be deeply missed.

    Ari Berman ‏@AriBerman Aug 16
    Julian Bond & @repjohnlewis registering black voters in the South in early 1970s with the Voter Education Project

  3. For me this is like watching a changing of the guard – so many of the key people from that phase of the civil rights movement will soon be part of history – if they aren’t already.

  4. Denise, you speak truly when you say, “For those of us of a certain age, Julian Bond was always a part of our civil rights landscape of struggle.”

    For me, awareness of the civil rights struggle began when I was 13, as the Little Rock Nine integrated Central High School, three blocks from where my family lived. I was in junior high at the time, but I saw the carloads of teenagers screaming, “Two-four-six-eight, we ain’t gonna integrate!” and the soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, dispatched by President Eisenhower to enforce the law.

    Thanks for this moving tribute, Denise. He was truly one of the Greats of the civil rights movement.

  5. News from the NAACP on Julian Bond’s funeral:

    Message from #JulianBond’s family about his burial. Remember his life and legacy Saturday, 2pm CDT. RT

  6. The Bond family asked that the world honor Chairman Bond by dropping flower petals in a nearby body of water.

    • SPLC ‏@splcenter
      Julian Bond’s ‘unwavering commitment to fight for justice’ remembered @TheKingCenter

      Julian Bond’s ‘unwavering commitment to fight for justice’ remembered at the King Center

      At 3 o’clock this afternoon, Julian Bond’s family scattered the civil rights icon’s ashes into the Gulf of Mexico, one week after he passed away at age 75. Hundreds of miles to the north, nearly 200 people simultaneously gathered in Sweet Auburn as local officials, activists, and onlookers—some of whom were his closest friends—laid a floral wreath in the reflecting pool outside the King Center to pay tribute to his legacy.

      The ceremony, held at the encouragement of the Bond family, brought together Atlanta mayors (Andrew Young, Kasim Reed), local officials (State Sen. Nan Orrock, Councilman Kwanza Hall), and civil rights leaders (C.T. Vivian, Bill Harris) for a moment of silence and a chance to remember Bond—co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a longtime state lawmaker, and a former NAACP chairman.

      “Julian was always, as he said, a ‘race man,’” said Young, who served with Bond in the General Assembly in the ‘70s before becoming a U.N. Ambassador. “But that’s only partially true. He was a race man because he was concerned about the plight of black people. But he understood we were a minority, and that in order to bring about changes for the good of the race, he had to be concerned about the human race.”

      According to Young, Bond’s inclusive approach to human rights was aided by a cool temperament and sharp sense of humor, both of which furthered his impact as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Acclaimed author Taylor Branch, a longtime friend and chronicler of the movement, said Bond wanted to be remembered as a freedom fighter and as someone who could find humor in the darkest of moments.

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