Monday, August 31, 2015

Julian Bond

The Chicago Defender ran a nice, informative obituary for Julian Bond, a great civil rights activist and supporter of LGBT rights: Kai EL’Zabar, Julian Bond Served Our Community 08/20/2015:

It was never a question of whether or not he’d go to college so when Julian Bond enrolled at Morehouse in 1961 it was as it should be. And when he became one of the original Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee/SNCC in Atlanta from 1961 as communications director, it was of no surprise to his family or those who knew him. He also married in 1961, began a family and left Morehouse for the sole purpose of working on civil rights in the South. From 1961 to 1963, he led student protests against segregation in public facilities and the Jim Crow laws of Georgia. ...

In 1965, Mr. Bond was one of eleven African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965 had opened voter registration to Blacks. By ending the disfranchisement of Blacks through discriminatory voter registration, Blacks regained the ability to vote and entered the political process. Mr. Bond ultimately ran and was elected as a Democrat, the party of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act into law. However it was noted by Civil Rights leaders how Johnson had hesitated and did not sign the Civil Rights Act until he was forced.
He was also an opponent of the Vietnam War, which also irritated the easily-irritated white racists in the Georgia legislature:

On January 10, 1966, Georgia state representatives voted 184–12 not to seat him because he had publicly endorsed SNCC’s policy regarding opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A three-judge panel on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled in a 2–1 decision that the Georgia House had not violated any of Bond’s constitutional rights.

Never backing down, in 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled 9–0 in the case of Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116) that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Mr. Bond his freedom of speech and was required to seat him.
And he was serious about his public defense of LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage:

Ahead of his time Mr. Bond was an outspoken supporter of the rights of gays and lesbians. He publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage. Most notably, he boycotted the funeral services for Coretta Scott King on the grounds that the King children had chosen an anti-gay mega-church as the venue. This was in conflict with their mother’s longstanding support for the rights of gay and lesbian people. In a 2005 speech in Richmond, Virginia, Mr. Bond stated:

“African Americans ... were the only Americans who were enslaved for two centuries, but we were far from the only Americans suffering discrimination then and now .... Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.’

In a 2007 speech on the Martin Luther King Day Celebration at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, Bond said, “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married.” His stance positioned elements of the NAACP against religious groups in the Civil Rights movement, who oppose gay marriage.
Here's Cenk Uygur's obituary report, Remembering Civil Rights Legend Julian Bond The Young Turks 08/17/2015:

Alice Walker remembered him with a poem, Julian (Julian Bond 1940-2015 Alice Walker's Garden Aug 2015). This is a portion:

They are saying many things
About you now
So much praise
That is well earned.
And yet,
I wonder if they can
The young man you were
Standing in
That Circle of Life
So long ago
Holding hands
With those as fragile,
As determined,
As pure as you
Waiting for the future
We would make
With just our circle
And our song.

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