NBJC Honors the Life and Legacy of Julian Bond
Washington, DC – The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) joins the nation in honoring the life and legacy of Julian Bond (1940-2015). A son of the South, Bond dedicated his entire life advocating for freedom and justice for all.
“The NBJC family is deeply saddened by the passing of Julian Bond, who will be remembered as one of the fiercest fighters for justice and equality that the world has ever seen. Coming of age as an influential leader in the Civil Rights Movement, his early and vocal support for LGBT rights has been a source of hope and inspiration to so many—especially to those within the Black LGBT community,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director & CEO. “I am a better activist and champion of civil rights because I was blessed to have known Julian Bond and saw him as my role model in being a frontline social justice warrior for racial justice and LGBT equality. The world has lost a hero, but we have gained a true example of how one life can make the world a more welcoming and inclusive place for all people. We must never forget what he stood for and build upon his legacy as we continue the fight for justice.”
While a student at Morehouse College during the late 1950s, Bond was heavily involved in civil rights protests in Atlanta, including sit-ins at dime stores, Woolworth’s and Rich’s department stores. His political activism led to his role as a founding member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960 and a major organizer of voter registration drives in the South to enfranchise Black voters. After his organizing work, Bond went onto serve 20 years in both houses of the Georgia State Assembly. As a state elected official, he sponsored legislation to provide low-interest home loans to low-income Georgians and worked to see the establishment of a majority Black congressional district in Atlanta. Julian Bond was a founder and the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) from 1971 to 1979, and then served as the chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1998 to 2010. In addition, Julian Bond was a writer, poet, television commentator, lecturer, college professor and incomparable justice warrior.
At the 2009 Centennial Convention of the NAACP, Julian Bond welcomed NBJC to launch the first NAACP Board of Directors LGBT Task Force. The Task Force was created to recognize the need for more understanding and tolerance within the African American community on LGBT issues. Initially, the goal of the Task Force was to increase the dialogue and information flow to the NAACP Board of Directors until they could win a majority of membership support on issues including hate crimes, fair housing, employment protection, marriage equality and homophobia in the church. As chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors, Julian Bond stood firm on this new focus in the face of opposition from within the organization.
“I am heartbroken by the loss of my friend and mentor, Julian Bond. He was a transformational leader and strong ally for the advancement of LGBT people and our families,” said Donna Payne, a founding board member of NBJC. “It’s because of his instrumental work and collaboration with NBJC that the NAACP established its LGBT Task Force in 2009. Because he never gave up on the early disconnect between African Americans and the LGBT community, his influence led to the NAACP’s support of marriage equality in 2012. NBJC truly owes a debt of gratitude and appreciation for the life’s work of Julian Bond.”
Today, NBJC honors the life of Julian Bond, a vocal and relentless advocate for the advancement of all people—especially those of marginalized and disenfranchised communities. We remember and take heed to his inspiring words:
“The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.”