Over the weekend, America lost a pioneer in the struggle for civil rights. Julian Bond, former chairman of the NAACP and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, died on August 15 after a brief illness.
Born in 1940, Julian Bond, a graduate of Morehouse College, was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s, served in the Georgia legislature from 1967-1987, and was the narrator for the award-wining miniseries Eyes on the Prize in 1987 and 1990.
While many of us know Julian Bond as a “race man” who worked tirelessly for the rights and freedoms of African-Americans, here are 10 facts we should also know about Julian Bond as we honor is life and legacy.
1. Julian Bond’s father, Horace Mann Bond, became the first president of Fort Valley State University in 1939 and later the first African-American president of Lincoln University in 1945.
2. Bond was one of the founding members of Morehouse’s literary magazine, The Pegasus.
3. Bond was first elected in 1965 to the Georgia House of Representatives in a special election. Members of that body refused to seat him because they disliked his opposition to the Vietnam War, particularly his stated support of those who rejected the draft. He won a second election for his seat in 1966 and was refused again. After a third election, in November of 1966, and a third refusal, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Georgia’s Representatives had violated Bond’s civil rights. He was finally seated in 1967.
4. Julian Bond was the first African-American nominated for vice president after leading the Georgia Loyal National Delegation, an alternate group of Georgia delegates to the 1968 Democratic Convention. Due to the age requirement, the vice president must be 35, Bond, 28, declined the nomination.
5. Over the course of his service in the Georgia House of Representatives (1967-1974), Bond served three different districts as the state was continuously redrawing district lines.
6. In 1977, Julian Bond became the first African-American politician to host Saturday Night Live.
7. Julian Bond was arrested in 1985 outside the South African Embassy in Washington D.C. for protesting apartheid.
8. Bond boycotted the funeral of Coretta Scott King in 2006 because the venue chosen for the memorial was at a church known for its anti-gay stance, a position Bond found to be in conflict with King’s support of gay rights.
9. Bond, at age 73, was one of 48 arrested for civil disobedience at the White House 2013 while protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. He was a long time critic of climate change policies stating, “This is not a pipeline to America. It’s a pipeline through America, and it threatens to be a disaster for us if it leaks poisons on the way.”
10. Bond has been awarded 21 honorary degrees from colleges and universities.
Julian Bond is survived by his wife, two siblings and five children, and will forever be remembered as a civil rights icon, American hero and champion for justice and equality.