Julian Bond

Government Official, Educator, & Civil Rights Activist

“I tell young people to prepare themselves as best they can for a world that grows more challenging every day ‐ get the best education they can, and couple that education with real-life experience in social justice work.”

Julian Bond is a civil rights leader who had to go to the Supreme Court to be allowed to take his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Early Life

Horace Julian Bond, generally known as Julian Bond, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 14, 1940. His family moved to Pennsylvania five years later, where his father served as the first African-American president of Lincoln University. In 1957, Bond enrolled at Atlanta's Morehouse College, where he helped found The Pegasus, a literary magazine, and interned at TIME magazine.


Julian Bond

Student Activism

While still a student, Bond became a founding member of the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights. He led nonviolent student protests against segregation in Atlanta parks, restaurants and movie theaters. In Raleigh, North Carolina, Bond helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960.

The next year, he left Morehouse to serve as the SNCC's communications director, a position he held for five years. He returned to Morehouse a decade later and received a degree in English.


Life in Politics

In 1965, Bond was voted into the Georgia House of Representatives. However, the state congressional body refused to swear him into his seat because he had endorsed a SNCC statement that decried the war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King Jr. organized a protest rally on Bond's behalf. In 1966, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in Bond's favor on the basis of freedom of speech.

Bond was finally able to take his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1967. He served in the Georgia House until 1975, and went on to serve in the Georgia Senate from 1975 to 1986. During his tenure in the state legislature, Bond wrote over 60 bills that were ratified as law.

Bond attended the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where he was nominated as a vice-presidential candidate. He was the first African American to receive the honor, but withdrew his name because he was not old enough to hold the office according to constitutional guidelines.

In 1986, Bond entered a Democratic primary to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Georgia. He lost the heavily contested race to John Lewis, another civil rights leader and former SNCC member.


Julian Bond

Continuing Activism

From 1971 to 1979, Bond served as president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization he also co-founded. He was president of Atlanta's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People before becoming the chairman of the national NAACP, a position he held from 1998 until 2010. He is now chairman emeritus of the NAACP and president emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bond continued to be a prominent voice in the media. He was a commentator for NBC's Today show, wrote a national newspaper column and produced poems that have appeared publications such as the Nation and the New York Times. He was also a professor of history at the University of Virginia and an adjunct professor at American University.


Death and Legacy

Julian Bond died on August 15, 2015, after a brief illness. He was 75 years old. In a statement, Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder Morris Dees said, “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.”


Quick Facts

Birth Date:
January 14, 1940

Death Date:
August 15, 2015


  • Was the first African-American to have his name placed in nomination for vice president of the United States. He could not accept the nomination because he was only 28 years old, which is under the age of eligibility according to the Constitution.
  • Is elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. He is not seated because House members oppose his outspoken views against the Vietnam War.
  • Was arrested outside the South African Embassy while protesting against apartheid.
  • He was a founding member of the Southern Poverty Law Center; which in 1971, Bond helped start the SPLC, which, according to its website, helps “fight hate,” “seek justice,” and “teach tolerance.”
  • Julian Bond
  • Julian Bond
  • Julian Bond

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