Julian Bond was an American civil rights leader whose life and legacy are both inspiring and important to learn about. He was a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the first African-American to be elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, and chairman of the NAACP from 1998 until 2010. In recognition of Black History Month, here’s 6 fascinating facts about Julian Bond.
1. He Was a Published Poet:
In addition to his political work, Bond was also a published poet. His collection A Time To Speak, A Time To Act was published in 1972 and contained some of his most famous work including “The Ballad Of Birmingham” which he wrote in response to the infamous 1963 bombing at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Alabama.
2. He Was a Founding Member of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Bond was one of the founding members of The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that specializes in civil rights and public interest litigation. The SPLC is renowned for its efforts to combat hate groups in the United States and internationally.
3. He Ran for Office Multiple Times:
Bond ran for office multiple times throughout his career but never won an election due largely to race-based gerrymandering by white politicians during the Jim Crow era in which electoral districts were intentionally drawn so as to disenfranchise black voters. Despite this, he remained active throughout his life with regards to electoral politics, campaigning vigorously for other candidates and working tirelessly on voter registration drives all over the country.
4. He Was an Early Advocate for LGBT Rights:
Bond was an early advocate for LGBT rights and spoke out against discrimination based on sexual orientation at a time when it was still widely accepted by much of mainstream America. In 1977 he became one of the first prominent African-American figures to speak out in favor of gay rights when he gave a speech at a Human Rights Campaign Fund Gala Dinner during which he declared that “gayness is not wrongness” —a phrase which has since become something of an unofficial mantra among supporters of LGBT rights around the world.
5. He Was Inducted Into The Georgia Hall Of Fame In 2011:
In 2011, Bond was inducted into The Georgia Hall Of Fame—the highest honor bestowed upon any Georgian citizen—in recognition of his immense contributions to civil rights both within his home state and beyond its borders during his lifetime as well as long after his death in 2015 at age 75 following complications from vascular disease.
6. He Was Awarded The Presidential Medal Of Freedom By Barack Obama:
In 2015, shortly before Bond passed away, President Obama awarded him with The Presidential Medal Of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—in recognition of his lifelong dedication toward making America more equal for all citizens regardless their race or gender identity.
Julian Bond’s life story is truly inspiring – from being a published poet, founding member of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), advocating for LGBT rights when almost no one else did so publicly, inducted into The Georgia Hall Of Fame, and receiving The Presidential Medal Of Freedom by Barack Obama – these are just some highlights! Through it all, he remained dedicated towards making America more equal for all citizens regardless their race or gender identity – something we should all strive towards today.
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