As one of the eight original students of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Julian Bond has been a civil rights activist since he was given no choice but to help bring the movement to Atlanta, Ga., during the civil rights movement.
Bond’s calling to be a social activist started in a café in Atlanta. As a young student in the 1960s, while Bond sat in a café across from Morehouse College, he was approached by a man who showed him a newspaper and asked if he had seen it. Originally thinking the man assumed him to be illiterate, he took offense. That is until he realized the man was referring to an article about the Greensburg demonstrations.
The man then raised the question of why the civil rights movement was not so pronounced in Atlanta, and whether or not Bond thought it should be. Bond answered “yes.” The two men then divided the café in half, each taking their side to raise awareness of the movement.
What followed was a lustrous career in which he served on the Georgia House of Representatives for four terms and later six terms in the Georgia Senate. Bond, former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, came to Pierce College on Oct. 18 to talk about the 2012 presidential election and the effects it will have on the African American population.
Bond was active during the civil rights movement when the level of racial hatred had become unbearable. Slavery had been abolished for more than 100 years, yet the African American community was still an oppressed racial group. Then, as Bond put it, the movement was electrified.
“Rosa Parks made her stand by sitting down,” Bond said.
With Parks’ action, a fight that had been going on for years developed into a massive movement for racial equality. With the start of this movement there was a mobilization of activists as well as students. While Bond was not one of the children who faced racial discrimination by entering the Little Rock School District in Arkansas, he was greatly influenced by their bravery. He was influenced to create a better world for the following generations.
Because of this desire for racial equality once while walking the grounds of the Morehouse College campus he was able to give insight to a problem. His companion was King, who relayed all of his fears and doubts to the young boy, saying his troubles were like having nightmares.
In response to his teacher’s worries, Bond said, “No Mr. King, try… I have a dream.”
While Bond was joking about this conversation, he was not joking about the racial biases still present in America today.
Many Americans assumed that after the civil rights movement racial inequality would cease to be. This was reinforced with the election of President Barack Obama. When the president took office in 2008 the consensus among Americans was that racial nirvana would spread across the land, this is known to be far from true.
With the election of the first African American President, white supremacists and extreme political parties were given a condoned chance to openly exercise racial bias. As Bond put it, “Obama is to the Tea Party as the moon is to werewolves.”
Bond stressed that America has become a nation that looks back at the civil rights movement with pride, thinking that along with slavery and segregation, racial inequality has been abolished. Despite this pride, the African Americans are not statistically equal to others.
In comparison to the white population, African Americans are 146 percent more likely to die at birth and are 447 percent more likely to be incarcerated. African Americans not only have a reduced income compared to the white population they also are anticipated to live five and a half years less than their Anglo neighbor.
While a large component of African American suppression is that of Black on Black violence, as Bond said, “Jim Crow may be dead, but his children still live.”
These children emerge in the form of white supremacists. As Bond referenced, there have only been 10 cases of voter imprecation in the past 10 years. Yet the Republican Party has enforced 180 laws increasing the requirements for voting.
This suppression of voter rights discourages minorities to vote, minorities like African Americans.
Bond stressed the importance of discussing racial inequality. Only by talking about the inequalities present in America can the American people come closer to reducing ethnic inequality.
“There is only one generation that separates Julian Bond from bondage,” Bond said.
But that one generation saw a reduction of open discrimination and with hope the next generation will see a reduction in the still prevalent issue of civil rights.
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