He has faced repeated jail time for his activism and has been nominated for vice president. He is the Chairman of the Board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and holds 19 honorary degrees. But for Julian Bond, there is still much to do.
?If you measure progress from when I was [young], then there has been great progress. But there hasn?t been enough and not enough people are engaged with fighting for progress,? Bond said in a recent phone interview. ?Racial discrimination at bottom is the same, but the issues manifest themselves as different.?
Bond will share these and other opinions when he speaks on ?Civil Rights, Now and Then? as part of the first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address at Strong Auditorium on Friday, Jan. 26.
For Bond, fighting discrimination has always been a part of his life. He first gained notoriety in 1960 while a student at More-house College, where he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
?I was born black in a society that discriminates against me, so I had no choice. I think I was lucky enough to be in college when the movement of young people sprung up and it invited me in,? he said.
After his active stance against discrimination in college, he turned his sights to the political front. In 1965 Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives but was prevented from taking his seat because members in the House strongly opposed his stance against the Vietnam War.
He was then reelected to his own vacant seat and unseated again. Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously to reinstate him and ruled the Georgia House had violated his rights. During his legislative tenure as the first black chair of the Fulton County Delegation in Georgia, he was sponsor and co-sponsor of more than 60 bills which were passed as law.
Although Bond does not feel that he would receive the same treated differently today, but it?s because people went to jail in the 1960s that we have protection for civil rights. So yesterday?s sacrifice produced today?s protection.?
Bond was also co-chair of a challenge delegation from Georgia during the 1968 Democratic Convention and was successful in unseating Georgia?s Democrats. In addition, Bond was nominated for vice president but had to decline because he was too young.
Bond?s opinions have also been well-publicized in the media. He appears regularly on ?America?s Black Forum? and has authored a nationally distributed newspaper column. He hosted Saturday Night Live in 1977, has narrated documentaries and has had numerous poems and articles published.
For Bond, there is not necessarily one arena that is most efficient in enacting change.
?I?m not sure if there is a most effective way. Some work best on one occasion and others on another. It depends on the circumstance,? he said.
As for the future, Bond has expressed some concern for new president George W. Bush. ?The signals so far are not healthy. The nominations of John Ashcroft [as Attorney General] and Gale Norton [as Secretary of the Interior] are disturbing,? Bond said. ?You can only judge by what has been done in the past. For these two people, it is fighting against racial progress.?