Julian Bond, an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, passed away on Aug. 15. Ironically, Bond died less than 10 days after the 50th Anniversary of the Voters Rights Act.
Bond fought for voting rights from the time he emerged as a national figure during the mid 1960’s when he served as the communications director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Bond joined Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) in making SNCC a major civil rights organization during this period. Most notably, he played a key role in mobilizing young people to participate in the 1965 march led by Martin Luther King across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Ala. on “Bloody Sunday.”
It was during this march, when Rep. Lewis was badly beaten by the police, that the world became aware of the violence inflicted upon civil rights advocates in the South. Bond went on to use his communications skills to become one of the more well known public faces of the Civil Rights Movement, with frequent appearances on television news programs and other public venues.
Over his lifetime, Bond continued to work as a state and national leader for civil and human rights, including:
- Serving 20 years in the Georgia General Assembly. White members of the House refused to seat him because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Georgia House denied Bond his freedom of speech and had to seat him.
- Becoming a founder, with Morris Dees, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization in Montgomery, Ala. Bond was its president from 1971 to 1979 and remained on its board for the rest of his life.
- Serving as the Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1998 to 2008.
Bond was an untiring advocate and activist for Civil Rights up until the day he passed. The nation owes him a debt of gratitude for his contribution to making America a better country for not only African Americans, but all Americans.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) joins the many individuals and organizations that have expressed their appreciation for Bond’s civil rights legacy. We are also committed to continuing to work toward his goal of ending all forms of injustice.
NASW also recognizes that Bond’s death around the time of the 50th Anniversary of the Voters Act is an incentive for the civil rights community to redouble its efforts to urge Congress to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015.
For questions related to this blog, please contact NASW Social Justice and Human Rights Manager Mel Wilson at Mwilson@naswdc.org.