By Stephanie R. Jones
It was Bond’s request, his family said in a statement, that he be cremated and his ashes scattered in the Gulf of Mexico. The service will be private but the family will announce plans for a public memorial soon.
Bond, 75, died Saturday, August 15 in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., announced the Southern Poverty Law Center, which he co-founded along with Atty. Morris Dees. Bond’s wife Pam Horowitz told the Washington Post the cause of death was complications due to vascular disease.
“From his days as the co-founder and communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s to his chairmanship of the NAACP in the 21st century, Julian was a visionary and tireless champion for civil and human rights.
“He served as the SPLC’s president from our founding in 1971 to 1979, and later as a member of its board of directors,” Dees said in the statement.
“With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all,” Dees said.
President Obama spoke of Bond’s legacy and extended condolences to his family.
“Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life – from his leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to his founding role with the Southern Poverty Law Center, to his pioneering service in the Georgia legislature and his steady hand at the helm of the NAACP,” President Obama said in a statement Sunday.
“Michelle and I have benefited from his example, his counsel, and his friendship – and we offer our prayers and sympathies to his wife, Pamela, and his children.”
Bond was a familiar figure in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era and beyond. U.S. Congressman Bennie G. Thompson called Bond a great mentor and friend.
“We have had a relationship since the 1960s when we worked together in various capacities during the Civil Rights movement,” Thompson said.
“In 1969, he established the Southern Elections Fund which provided campaign funds and technical advice to help elect local and state level candidates across the old confederacy.
“I was a direct beneficiary of his efforts when I ran for alderman and mayor of Bolton, in the early 70s. And when I first ran for Congress, Julian Bond was the first person outside of Mississippi to contribute to and advise my campaign.”
Thompson added, “His steadfast leadership guided a generation of people looking to make a difference in their communities.”
Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP said Bond’s legacy “will be forever etched in the memory and teachings of past and current social justice movements.” Bond remained a NAACP National Board Chairman Emeritus.
“He was the voice of the civil rights movement,” Johnson said. “As an historian and activist he was unmatched in succinctly articulating issues with absolute clarity.”
The Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement noted Bond’s passing reflecting on when he was in Jackson in June, 2013 for events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Medgar Wylie Evers, his fellow NAACP member and Civil Rights activist.
“He dedicated his entire life to the struggle for freedom, justice and equality for all humankind. He stood as a powerful example for those of us who accepted the same commitments to the civil rights struggle we saw in him,” said Hollis Watkins, Veterans chairman.
“He lived to inspire others and to leave a path that today’s youth can follow with an understanding of their own history,” Watkins said.
Jackson State University President Carolyn W. Meyers, who came to know Bond in Atlanta, called him a “world-class scholar, dedicated humanitarian, courageous activist.”
“Julian Bond demanded that this country live up to its ideals of freedom and democracy,” Meyers said. “He was a great man, and his legacy will live on through the work we do at Jackson State.”
In addition to politics and civil rights advocacy, Bond was a savvy media professional. Wayne Dawkins, chronicler of the National Association of Black Journalists wrote: “As a SNCC member, Bond was communications director and ‘deftly guided the national news media toward stories of violence and discrimination as the committee challenged legal segregation in the South’s public facilities.’”
Bond was the host of “America’s Black Forum,” an iconic syndicated public affairs TV program. “Bond in 1970 provided guidance to pioneering journalists of color. ‘Go out … and slay the dragon!’ he urged the class of the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at Columbia University,” Dawkins wrote.
Former NABJ President Kathy Times of Jackson recalled Bond’s participation on a trip to Senegal with NAACP leaders and NABJ members, including Djibril Diallo of the United Nations.
Diallo organized the U.S. delegation’s trip to Senegal as the country celebrated 50 years of independence. Diallo and Times said they were inspired by Bond’s knowledge of issues facing the country.
“He had so much knowledge to share during the Senegal trip. The impact of his work will live on and influence many students and activists,” said Times.
In addition to his wife Pamela, Bond is survived by sons Horace Mann Bond II, Jeffrey and Michael; daughters, Phyllis Jane Bond McMillan and Julia Louise Bond; sister, Jane; brother, James; and his eight grandchildren.
The family asks those wanting to pay respects on Saturday to gather at a body of water at 2 p.m. and spread flower pedals on the water.
More details about Bond’s legacy are given by George Curry on page 12A.
Stephanie R. Jones can be reached at email@example.com or (601) 454-0372.