Memorandum August 17, 2015
- AU Community
- Neil Kerwin, President
- Professor Julian Bond
It is with tremendous sadness that I write to note the passing of a cherished colleague, Professor Julian Bond, 75, who died Saturday night after a brief illness. A towering figure of the civil rights movement, Professor Bond was a distinguished faculty member in the Department of Government within the School of Public Affairs (SPA) since 1991. He taught Advanced Studies in Public Policy: Politics of the Civil Rights Movement and Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement, an honors colloquium, through which he mentored hundreds of students over the decades.
A former chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Professor Bond was a passionate leader in the 1960s civil rights movement, working closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leading civil rights figures. While a student at Morehouse College, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization known for effective front line protests such as freedom rides and sit-ins. The Southern Poverty Law Center, another organization Professor Bond co-founded, stands today as a reflection of his lifelong advocacy for equal rights for all.
In addition to his dedication to the civil rights movement, Professor Bond served twenty years in the Georgia State House of Representatives and Georgia Senate. There, his crusade for equal rights was fought in a different arena. After his election to the Georgia House following the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the House refused to seat him for reasons related to his work with SNCC. This led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Bond v. Floyd, where the Court determined that Professor Bond had been denied his freedom of speech. Following his tenure in the Georgia House, he went on to serve six terms in the Georgia Senate.
Among his many honors, Professor Bond received the Civil Liberties Union Bill of Rights Awards of Massachusetts and Georgia. He holds 25 honorary degrees, and Time magazine named him as one of America's top 200 leaders. A visionary leader and important figure in our nation's history, Professor Bond was without peer and will be truly missed. Our thoughts are with Professor Bond's family and with all who were inspired by his vision.
Information about Professor Bond's memorial service will be shared as soon as it is available.