By Terri Lee Freeman
On Saturday, August 15, 2015 the fight for freedom lost a soldier – Julian Bond. The life of Julian Bond is a message to young and old alike. As a college student, Julian Bond took the role of activist seriously, dropping out of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia to further his involvement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), eventually leading a sit-in at the City Hall cafeteria in Atlanta. He continued his protest activities throughout the 1960s before eventually completing his degree in the early 1970s and turning to more ”mainstream” pathways of protest. He was a legislator, professor, commentator, poet, served as chairman of the Board of the NAACP and was even nominated to serve as Vice President for Presidential candidate Hubert H. Humphrey. He added even more prestige to the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award by accepting this honor in 2002. But most importantly he was an outspoken advocate for social justice, wrapped in a garment of poise, class and civility.
I had the pleasure of introducing Mr. Bond in 2012 at the annual gala for an organization called DC Vote. You see, Mr. Bond continued to push for the right for all citizens of this great nation to have voting representation in the halls of Congress, a right NOT extended to the citizens of the District of Columbia. In those moments of introduction, I remember feeling very small in this great man’s presence. His very clear, booming voice, and tall stature increased his persona as a great civil rights icon with a lot of juice left!
While his voice has been silenced, the message he left us is clear – so much work is yet to be done (DC voting rights is but one civil rights challenge) to preserve rights that were hard fought and to eliminate the far too pervasive institutional racism that persists. His work also demonstrates that there are many paths that can be taken to achieve the desired outcome, each requiring action! We can act through civil disobedience. We can act through effective use of the media (social media included). We can act through involvement in nonprofit organizations that seek to promote justice. And, we can act by engaging our right to VOTE.
The time for action is now. We are a far more diverse society today than we were in 1960, but it appears that our levels of tolerance for diversity, and more importantly, inclusion have begun to decrease. The baton has been passed from the icons of yesterday to each of us. There is room for many methods, but let us all resolve to move forward to ensure justice for all.
Rest in peace Mr. Bond, and know your work will be carried on…