BOND, HORACE JULIAN
In the annals of the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, the career of the politician, activist, and educator Julian Bond holds a unique place. Bond’s work on behalf of social justice spans the period from the 1960s to the early 2000s. As a college organizer in 1960, he helped found the STUDENT NON-VIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE (SNCC), arguably the most important group channel for the young people who expanded and radicalized the movement. In 1965, he became one of the first members of his generation to make the transition from activism to political office, subsequently serving for nearly two decades in Georgia state government.
Through his legislation, writing, teaching, and
planning for legal affairs groups, Bond is widely recognized as an intellectual leader of the contemporary CIVIL RIGHTS movement.
Born on January 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee,
Bond was the son of black educators. His childhood was steeped in the intellectual life of
Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where his
father, Horace Mann Bond, served as president.
The family’s accomplishments—Bond was the
descendant of a freed slave—did not insulate
him from prejudice.While at the George School,
a Quaker prep school at which he was the only
black student in the 1950s, Bond was told by the
headmaster not to wear his school jacket on dates
with white girls. The experience scarred him yet
awakened him politically. At that time he also
began developing a philosophy of racial awareness
and PACIFISM, along with the witty, penetrating
style for which he later became known.
In 1957, Bond entered Morehouse College in
Atlanta, Georgia.He did not receive his bachelor
of arts degree in English until 14 years later, but
in the interim, he made history. Bond was
inspired by the civil rights movement and particularly
the philosophy of nonviolent change
espoused by MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. In 1960,
Bond helped found two influential student
groups. The first of these, the Committee on
Appeal for Human Rights, succeeded in integrating
Atlanta businesses and public places. The
second group, the Student Non-violent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC), grew into a national
phenomenon, becoming the leading civil rights
organization among young people in the mid-
1960s. SNCC activities ranged from voter registration
drives in the South to opposition to the
VIETNAM WAR, and Bond, in addition to joining
SNCC in the field, edited its newsletter.
Dropping out of college in 1961 to become a
full-time activist, Bond soon established himself
as a national figure through this work and his
subsequent political career. In 1965, he won
election to the Georgia House of Representatives.
But lawmakers voted not to seat him,
ostensibly because of his anti-war activities, particularly
his signing of a SNCC statement that
supported men who chose not to respond to
their draft summons. Bond’s supporters argued
that the real reason he was not seated was
racism. After the legislature called a new election,
Bond won again, but he was still refused
office.His lawsuit claiming the right to be seated
went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled
unanimously in December 1966 that the legislature’s
actions violated the FIRST AMENDMENT
(Bond v. Floyd, 385 U.S. 116, 87 S. Ct. 339, 17 L.
Ed. 2d 235). Bond took office in January 1967.
Bond’s success led to his name being placed
in nomination for vice president at the 1968
Democratic Convention, a first for a black man.
The nomination was symbolic; he was too young
to serve and so withdrew his name. In Georgia,
he served as a state representative until 1974 and
as a state senator from 1974 to 1987. During this period, he introduced some 60 bills aimed at
helping minorities and low-income citizens; he
also led a successful drive to create a new congressional
district in Atlanta representing a black
majority. He made an unsuccessful bid for the
U.S. House of Representatives in 1987.
During his career, Bond has written about
and taught civil rights and has served in many
civil rights organizations. In 1971, he became
the first president of the SOUTHERN POVERTY
LAW CENTER, a nonprofit legal organization
based in Montgomery, Alabama, devoted to
ending discrimination. In the 1990s Bond served
four terms on the board of the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored Persons
(NAACP). Bond has served since 1998 as national
board chairman of the NAACP.
A holder of 23 honorary degrees, Bond has
taught at Drexel University, Harvard University,
the University of Pennsylvania, and Williams
College. In 2003 he served as a distinguished
professor at American University in Washington,
D.C. and a professor of history at the University
In the early 2000s Bond continued to be a
prolific writer. His articles and poems have
appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers
including The Nation, Playboy, Ramparts,
the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.
Bond has also continued his work as a narrator
and commentator and has made appearances on
television and in the movies. In 2002 he received
the EUGENE V. DEBS Award for his work with
social justice issues and also the prestigious
National Freedom Award.
Branch, Taylor. 1989. Parting the Waters: America in the King
Years, 1954–1963. New York: Touchstone.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Available online at (accessed
June 1, 2003).
Reed, Adolph. 1999. Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the
Post-Segregation Era.Minneapolis,Minn.: Univ. of Minnesota
Civil Rights Movement.