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Julian Bond, 2005

Horace Julian Bond, known as Julian Bond, (born January 14, 1940) is an American social activist and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement, politician, professor and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bond was elected to both houses of the Georgia Legislature, where he served a total of 20 years. He was chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1998 to 2010.



Early life and education

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Bond and his family moved when he was five to Pennsylvania, when his father, Dr. Horace Mann Bond, was selected as the first African-American president of Lincoln University, his alma mater. Bond first studied at George School, a private Quaker preparatory boarding school near Newtown, Pennsylvania.

Beginning in 1957, Bond attended Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta. While there, he earned a varsity letter for swimming. He also helped found a literary magazine called The Pegasus which was founded by his friend. He worked as an intern at Time magazine. He was also a member of the only class taught by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1960, Bond was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and served as communications director from 1961 to 1966. From 1960 to 1963, he led student protests against segregation in public facilities in Georgia.

Bond left Morehouse in 1961, returning to complete his degree in 1971 at age 31, earning a BA in English. With Morris Dees, Bond helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a public-interest law firm based in Montgomery, Alabama. He served as president from 1971 to 1979. Bond continues on the board of directors of the SPLC.


In 1965, Bond was one of eight African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after passage of civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On January 10, 1966, however, the Georgia state representatives voted 184-12 not to seat him because he publicly endorsed SNCC's opposition to U.S. policy in the Vietnam War. They also disliked Bond's stated sympathy for persons who were "unwilling to respond to a military draft".[1] A U.S. District Court panel ruled 2-1 that the Georgia House had not violated any federal rights. In 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 9-0, in the case of Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116), that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Bond his freedom of speech and was required to seat him.

From 1965 to 1975, Bond was elected for four terms as a Democratic member in the Georgia House. There he organized the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. He went on to be elected for six terms in the Georgia Senate from 1975-1986.

During the 1968 Presidential election, Bond led a challenge delegation from Georgia to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Here, unexpectedly and contrary to his intention, he became the first African American to be proposed as a major-party candidate for Vice President of the United States. While expressing gratitude for the honor, the 28-year-old Bond quickly declined, citing the constitutional requirement that one must be at least 35 years of age to serve in that office.

Bond resigned from the Georgia Senate in 1987 to run for the United States House of Representatives from Georgia's 5th congressional district. He lost the Democratic nomination in a runoff to rival civil rights leader John Lewis in a bitter contest, in which Bond was accused of using cocaine and other drugs.[citation needed] As the 5th district had a huge Democratic majority, the nomination delivered the seat to Lewis who still serves as congressman.

Bond was later the target of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office.[citation needed] His estranged wife, Alice, made numerous accusations of drug use to the Atlanta Police Department. She later refused to testify to a grand jury after reportedly receiving a phone call from Andrew Young, who was then Mayor of Atlanta.[citation needed]

In the 1980s and 1990s, Bond taught at several universities in major cities of the North and South, including American, Drexel, Harvard, and the University of Virginia.

In 1998, Bond was selected as chairman of the NAACP. In November 2008, he announced that he would not seek another term as chairman.[2] Bond agreed to stay on in the position through 2009 as the organization celebrated its 100th anniversary. Roslyn M. Brock was chosen as Bond's successor on February 20, 2010.[3]

He continues to write and lecture about the history of the civil rights movement and the condition of African Americans and the poor. He is President Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

From 1980-1997 he hosted America's Black Forum. He remains a commentator for the Forum, for radio's Byline, and for NBC's The Today Show. He authored the nationally syndicated newspaper column Viewpoint. He narrated the critically acclaimed PBS series Eyes on the Prize in 1987 and 1990.

Bond has been an outspoken supporter of the rights of gays and lesbians. He has publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage. Most notably he boycotted the funeral services for Coretta Scott King on the grounds that the King children had chosen an anti-gay megachurch. This was in contradiction to their mother's longstanding support for the rights of gay and lesbian people.[4] In a 2005 speech in Richmond, VA, Bond stated:

African Americans ... were the only Americans who were enslaved for two centuries, but we were far from the only Americans suffering discrimination then and now. ... Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.[5]

In a 2007 speech on the Martin Luther King Day Celebration at Clayton State University in Morrow, GA, Bond said, "If you don't like gay marriage, don't get gay married." His positions have pitted elements of the NAACP against religious groups in the Black Civil Rights movement who oppose gay marriage mostly within the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) who was blamed partly for the success of the recent gay marriage ban amendment in California.[citation needed]

Today, Bond is a Distinguished Adjunct Professor at American University in Washington, D.C. He also is a faculty member in the history department at the University of Virginia, where he teaches history of the Civil Rights Movement.[1]

Personal life

On July 28, 1961, Bond married Alice Clopton, a student at Spelman College. They divorced on November 10, 1989. They had five children: Phyllis Jane Bond-McMillan, Horace Mann Bond II, Michael Julian Bond, (a city representative from Atlanta’s Council District Three), Jeffrey Alvin Bond and Julia Louise Bond.

Bond married Pamela S. Horowitz, an attorney, on March 17, 1990.

Legacy and honors

The above two are among 25 honorary degrees which he has been awarded.

Controversial comments

As NAACP chairman, Bond strongly criticized Republican Party. WorldNetDaily, a conservative Internet-based news service, inaccurately reported that Bond's saying: "[The Republicans'] idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side-by-side." WorldNetDaily accused him of calling Secretary of State Rice and former Secretary Powell "tokens" and comparing the judicial nominees of President George W. Bush to the Taliban.[7] His actual words were that the Republican Party uses them "as kinds of human shields against any criticism of their record on civil rights."[8] The issue was resolved when the Fayetteville Observer reported on its review of the audio recordings of the speech.

Bond was a strong critic of the Bush administration from its assumption of office in 2001. Twice that year, first in February to the NAACP board and then in July at that organization's national convention, he attacked the administration for selecting Cabinet secretaries "from the Taliban wing of American politics". Bond specifically targeted Attorney General John Ashcroft, who had opposed affirmative action, and Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who defended the Confederacy in a 1996 speech on states' rights. The selection of these two individuals, Bond said, "...whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection", "appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing". Then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey responded to Bond's statement with a letter accusing NAACP leaders of "racial McCarthyism."[9]

In 2003 Bond was quoted in a New York Times article criticizing the names of public schools named for Confederate leaders by saying, "[I]f Robert E. Lee had had his way, [black children] would still be in bondage."

Media appearances

During his tenure with the NAACP, Bond was frequently interviewed and appeared on numerous news shows. He also had a small appearance in the movie Ray (2004).

He hosted Saturday Night Live on April 9, 1977, becoming the first black political figure to host the show. The famous segment from this appearance is the "Black Perspective" skit with then-SNL cast member Garrett Morris. Bond explained perceptions of white and black I.Q. differences with the tongue-in-cheek "theory" that "light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark-skinned blacks."[10]

On October 11, 2009 Julian appeared at the National Equality march in Washington DC and spoke upon the the Rights of GLBT community which was aired live on C-SPAN.[11][12]


  • Black Candidates: Southern Campaign Experiences. Atlanta: Voter Education Project, Southern Regional Council, 1969.
  • A Time To Speak, A Time To Act: The Movement in Politics. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.
  • Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table: A Documentary History of the Civil Rights Movement. (with Andrew Lewis). American Heritage, 1995.
  • Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Celebration of the Negro National Anthem, 100 Years, 100 Voices. (with Sondra Kathryn Wilson, eds.) New York: Random House, 2000.
  • Nationally syndicated column Viewpoint.
  • Poems and articles have appeared in a national list of magazines and newspapers.

Further reading


  1. ^ The World Almanac 1967, pp. 54–55
  2. ^ "Bond won't seek re-election as NAACP Chairman". International Herald Tribune. 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  3. ^ "NAACP chooses successor to Chairman Julian Bond". CNN. 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  4. ^ Black Voices Q&A 09/25/06
  5. ^ "NAACP chair says ‘gay rights are civil rights’". Washington Blade. 2004-04-08. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  6. ^ "NAACP chairman will speak at Commencement". The GW Hatchet. 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  7. ^ WorldNetDaily: NAACP chairman compares GOP to Nazis
  8. ^
  9. ^ Wickham, DeWayne (2001-07-16). "Julian Bond: Master needler" (Opinion). USA Today. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  10. ^ "SNL Transcripts: Julian Bond / Tom Waits". Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  11. ^ Street vs. suite by Richard J. Rosendall. October 13, 2009. Bay Windows
  12. ^ C-Span archive

External links

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