Last week the country lost a giant from the Civil Rights Movement. Julian Bond died in Florida at the age of 75. Those striving for equality will find in Bond’s life a wealth of knowledge on the values of patience and standing for principle.
Bond founded some of the most important organizations that have affected the march towards equality in our nation. He was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which played a pivotal role in the movement with the Freedom Rides and voter rights. Bond also co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has become one of the most respected institutions in fighting for minority rights, and is well-known for its list identifying hate groups within the United States.
In Bond’s life we can find lessons on activism. His life embodied the quote of Martin Luther King, Jr: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but was denied entry to the body by his fellow House members due to his opposition to the Vietnam War. In that moment, his stand for his principles prevented him from a prize he had been elected to receive. However, the arc of the universe bent towards justice, and in 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Assembly must allow Bond to be seated.
Bond ran against his old friend and fellow-activist, John Lewis, in a contested race for the US House of Representatives. Eventually, he went on to become the chairman of the NAACP.
As the number of heroes from the movement dwindle, it is imperative on us as a nation to ensure that the lessons they leave us with are not forgotten. More important, we must ensure that the sacrifices they made were not in vain, but that they laid the foundation for us to continue their struggle for justice and equality.