UW News

March 26, 1999

Julian Bond to speak at UW Commencement

News and Information

Julian Bond, a participant in movements for civil rights, economic justice and peace for nearly 40 years, will be the University of Washington commencement speaker June 12 at Husky Stadium.

Bond currently is chairman of the board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also is a distinguished scholar in residence at the American University in Washington, D.C., and a professor in the Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies of the History Department at the University of Virginia.

Bond graduated from the George School, a co-educational Quaker school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1957 and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta that same year. In 1960, he was a founder of the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights, a student civil rights organization that directed three years of non-violent, anti-segregation protests that won integration of Atlanta’s movie theaters, lunch counters and parks.

Bond was one of several hundred students from across the South who helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. Shortly thereafter, he became the organization’s communications director, as well as working in voter registration drives in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Bond won a one-year term in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965 in a special election, but the house voted not to seat him because of his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War. He won a second election, in 1966, but the legislature again refused to let him take his seat. He won a third election in November 1966, and in December the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Georgia house had violated Bond’s rights in refusing him a seat. Bond ended up serving four terms in the Georgia house and six in the senate. Overall, he served 20 years in the Georgia General Assembly and was elected to public office more times than any other black Georgian.

During his service in the Georgia General Assembly, Bond was sponsor or co-sponsor of more than 60 bills which became law including a pioneer sickle cell anemia testing program, authorization of a minority set-aside program for Fulton County, and a state-wide program providing low-interest home loans to low-income Georgians. He waged a successful two-year fight in the legislature and courts to create a majority black congressional district in Atlanta and organized the Georgia Black Caucus, then the nation’s largest.

In 1968, Bond was co-chairman of the Georgia Loyal National Delegation to the Democratic Convention. The Loyalists, an insurgent group, were successful in unseating the hand-picked regulars, and Bond was nominated for vice-president of the United States, the first black to be so honored by a major political party. He withdrew his name because he was too young to serve.

Bond was elected chairman of the NAACP board of directors in 1998.

Bond holds honorary degrees from 15 schools. He was president and founder of the Southern Elections Fund, an early political action committee which aided in the election of rural Southern black candidates. He is on the advisory boards of the Fisk University Race Relations Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Corporation for Maintaining Editorial Diversity in America, the Nicaragua/Honduras Education Project, the Earth Communications Office, the National Federation for Neighborhood Diversity, the Southern Africa Media Center, the Joan Shorenstein Barone Center of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the American Committee on Africa and the Human Rights Defense Fund. He is president emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

He is the author of “Black Candidates – Southern Campaign Experiences.” His poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. A collection of Bond’s essays has been published under the title, “A Time to Speak, a Time to Act.”