Huffington Post

Join Julian Bond

The Huffington Post — Monday, October 18, 2010

By John Atlas

New Jersey's residents have a rare chance to hear arguably the most elegant and inspiring civil rights leader since MLK. His name is Julian Bond. Bond has been a courageous and controversial figure in civil rights since his student years in the 1960s, when he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. SNCC played a pivotal role in integrating the South and building the civil rights movement. Bond and other SNCC organizer often found themselves pushing Martin Luther King to move faster and harder. From 1960 to 1963, Bond led student protests against segregation in public facilities in Georgia. Because of his speaking and writing skills, he was appointed communications director for SNCC a position he held from 1960 until 1966.

After serving in Georgia's legislature for several terms in both houses, Bond took up his post as a professor at the University of Virginia in 1998. In 1965, Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after passage of civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On January 10, 1966, however, the Georgia state representatives refused to seat him by a vote of 184-12 because he endorsed SNCC's opposition to U.S. policy in the Vietnam War.

The conservative and racist Georgia legislators also criticize Bond for his support for young men "unwilling to respond to a military draft". A U.S. District Court panel ruled 2-1 that the Georgia House had not violated any federal rights, but 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 9-0, in the case of Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116), that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Bond his freedom of speech and ordered the legislature to seat him.

From 1965 to 1975, the people of in his district electedond to four terms as a Democratic member in the Georgia House, where he organized the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, and then elected him for six terms in the Georgia Senate.

Known for helping his district's low and moderate income residents of his, concentrating on such issues as street paving and garbage collection, he became less interested in legislating and electoral politics, and more focused on expressing his views, writing and giving speeches.

In the 1980s Bond narrowly survived a challenge to his Senate seat in 1986 Bond gave up his that seat to run for U.S. Congress, but lost a controversial Democratic primary to longtime SNCC colleague, John Lewis.

Since then Bond, an inspiring speaker, has narrated the highly acclaimed Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary on the civil rights movement, Eyes on the Prize, hosted the television program America's Black Forum, wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column titled "Viewpoint," contributed numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and led the NAACP as its chairman fighting for civil rights, racial equality, economic justice and peace. He recently resigned from that post, but continues to push the NAACP in a progressive direction.

Bond, who holds 20 honorary degrees and is a Professor of History at the University of Virginia, has recently become a leading advocate within the NAACP to get the group to reach out to gay rights groups and support same-sex marriage rights. The NAACP's national board has taken no stance on the issue.

On Friday, October 22, 2010, at 6 pm, The New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund will present a very special appearance by Bond. In "Crossing the Color Line: From Rhythm 'n' Blues to Rock 'n' Roll," Bond will present a history of American music, tracing the melding of jazz, blues, country music and pop into rock & roll, stopping along the way to examine the influences of race, demographics, war, immigration and technology in this transformation. Music and photos describing how black and white Americans, immigrants and their music, came together to create a new type of music. will accompany Bond's presentation.

This entertaining and informative program recognizes among other things the interplay of race and public policy. This program is being held in partnership with the Rutgers University Constitutional Law Clinic. Dean John J. Farmer Jr., Rutgers School of Law-Newark and Dr. Clement Price, Distinguished Service Professor will welcome guests and introduce Bond.

Time: Friday, October 22, 2010 6pm

Place: Rutgers Law School, Herbert M. Ellend Atrium (lower level) 123 Washington Street Newark, NJ 07102

To get tickets go to: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5699/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=24525

TICKETS: $100

Tickets are available for students at a special ticket price of $25 each, current college ID required.

John Atlas is a public-interest lawyer, activist, writer, and radio talk-show host.

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