Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

American Forum: Julian Bond Town Hall

SOC professor Jane Hall, producer/host of the American Forum series, recruited civil-rights leader Julian Bond for an American Forum on the legacy of Martin Luther King as the nation dedicated the memorial to Dr. King this fall. Hall worked with AU's Office of Multicultural Affairs and Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program to gather a group of 15 outstanding and diverse AU students, including students Hall has taught, from SIS, SPA, Kogod, CAS and SOC, for a one-hour program that was videotaped and edited to 30 minutes in SOC's Media Production Center.

Julian Bond, students and Hall engaged in a lively, thoughtful dialogue about the history of the civil-rights movement, the unrecognized role of women in the movement, the educational achievement gap, the role of the media in social movements, and social responsibilty in business. Bond challenged the students and their generation to become more involved in the great social issues of their time. NBC4 in Washington has aired the Bond program multiple times on its digital NBC Non-Stop channel and has posted the video prominently on NBC4.com, the station's web site. This American Forum special also has had other educational uses, both within AU and online. The Southern Poverty Law Center has linked to and written about the program on its web site that reaches high-school teachers across the country, and the NAACP and other organizations also has featured the program on its web site. The Office of Multicultural Affairs has provided the Bond program to all directors in the Office of Campus Life, and it is expected to be shown at AU and online during Martin Luther King programs in the future.

Julian Bond on Life as a Civil Rights Leader at 20, Advice for Today's Organizers

Bond reflects on being a civil rights leader, working with Martin Luther King, Jr. and leading protests at 20, the same age as the students in the room. Bond cites a Southern Poverty Law Center project, Teaching Tolerance, showing that students today lack knowledge about the Civil Rights Movement, what they do know boils down to MLK, Rosa Parks and "I Have a Dream". Bond and student have a Q&A about the important impact of media images of protests on civil rights legislation. Bond also advises on how to organize.

Bond on Women in the Civil Rights Movement, Students Share Personal Stories on Education Opportunities and Community Organizing

Extended Q & A on role of women in the Civil Rights Movement, including Diane Nash and Freedom Rides. Bond emphasizes that while MLK was a great man, of course, he didn't do it alone-others participated, men and women. Extended Q & A in which one student shares his experience at a failing school in Atlanta, Ga. and asks about role of education and crisis in black male achievement as new big civil-rights issue. Bond says schools are re-segregating, more segregated than in 1969, and it is no longer thought of as good for black children and white children to go to school together. Extended Q & A in which another student talks about growing up in Southeast Washington, DC, trying to organize and finding people today less interested in commuity and more materialistic. Bond rejects the idea that his generation was altruistic and today's generation is materialistic, but challenges students to be more involved in great issues of our time.

Julian Bond on Wall Street, Social Media, What Students Need to Know about the Civil Rights Movement

Bond engages with a student going into business about failure of Wall Street to do social good; weighs in on social media, refuting the notion that more information necessarily leads to confusion, apathy. Bond responds to student's question on what students should (but don't) know about the Civil Rights Movement Hall poses a series of questions she asks her students in her media history course about the civil rights era. Bond argues that No Child Left Behind has pushed American History - including the Civil Rights Movement - out of the classroom.

The American Forum is an interactive multimedia TV and online program with a live town-hall audience. The program engages with young people about issues they care about in politics, media and culture. It is produced by American University’s School of Communication..