As protester, politician, scholar, and lecturer, Julian Bond was committed to civil rights, economic justice, and peace from the 1950s until the end of his life. Bond played a significant role in the civil rights movement and continued his battle to ensure equality for all Americans during his twenty-year tenure in the Georgia legislature. When Bond retired from the Georgia senate, he had been elected to office more times than any other Black Georgian.

Horace  Julian Bond was born on January 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee. His father, Horace Mann Bond, became the first president of Fort Valley State College (later Fort Valley State University) in Fort Valley, Georgia, in 1939 and the first African American president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1945, as well as dean of education at Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University) in 1957. After finishing high school, Julian Bond moved to Atlanta in 1957 to attend Morehouse College. At the all-Black college, Bond joined the varsity swimming team, was one of the founding members of the literary magazine The Pegasus, and served as an intern for Time magazine. Bond’s lifelong dedication to civil rights began at Morehouse when the young student helped organize the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights. The civil rights organization staged various nonviolent protests that led to the integration of Atlanta’s theaters, lunch counters, and parks.

Julian Bond
Julian Bond

Courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

On Easter weekend 1960, Bond joined several other college students in Raleigh, North Carolina, to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and he became its communications director. An organization made up entirely of college students, SNCC worked with local communities to establish grassroots support for the civil rights movement. As SNCC’s communications director, Bond served as editor of its newspaper, the Student Voice, based in Atlanta. He also participated in numerous voter registration drives throughout the South. In 1961 Bond left Morehouse to dedicate more time to the movement, becoming the editor of a new protest magazine, the Atlanta Inquirer. In 1971 he returned to Morehouse and graduated with a degree in English. He was later awarded twenty-one honorary degrees from various colleges and universities.

Julian Bond
Julian Bond

Courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In 1965 Bond officially entered the political arena. The veteran civil rights activist won a seat in the Georgia legislature, but his outspoken objection to the Vietnam War (1964-73) prompted the legislature to deny Bond his seat. Three times voters in Bond’s district elected him as their representative only to have the legislature ignore their wishes. Finally, in December 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the actions of the Georgia house were unconstitutional. Bond was sworn in on January 9, 1967, and served until 1974, when he was elected to the Georgia senate. During this time Bond also served as president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights law firm established in Montgomery, Alabama, by Morris Dees, the former business partner of Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller.

While in the senate, Bond became the first African American chair of the Fulton County senate delegation and was chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs. In 1971 he returned to his SNCC roots when he conducted a widely publicized voter registration drive in heavily Black areas of Georgia. He retired from the senate to run for the U.S. Congress in 1986. He lost the election in a fiercely contested battle to his longtime friend and fellow civil rights activist John Lewis.

Julian Bond
Julian Bond

Courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Following the end of his political career, Bond was a professor of history at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and a visiting professor at American University in Washington, D.C. In 1998 he became chair of the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored PeopleHis writings have appeared in the Nation, Life, the New York Times, and other national publications.

Bond was married twice, first to Alice Clopton Bond, with whom he had five children: Phyllis Jane, Horace Mann II, Michael Julian, Jeffery, and Julia Louise. In 1990 he married Pamela Sue Horowitz, a lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bond died at the age of seventy-five on August 15, 2015, while vacationing in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

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Julian Bond

Julian Bond

As protester, politician, scholar, and lecturer, Julian Bond remained committed to civil rights, economic justice, and peace from the 1950s until his death in 2015. When Bond retired from his twenty-year tenure in the Georgia senate, he had been elected to office more times than any other Black Georgian. In 1998 Bond became chair of the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Julian Bond

Julian Bond

Pictured in 1966, Julian Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but the legislature refused to seat him because of his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War. In December 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court declared the actions of the house unconstitutional, and Bond was finally sworn in on January 9, 1967.

Julian Bond

Julian Bond

Georgia senator Julian Bond is pictured on the road for a speech in 1978. He retired from the senate to run for the U.S. Congress in 1986; Bond lost the election in a fiercely contested battle to his longtime friend and fellow civil rights activist John Lewis.

Julian Bond

Julian Bond

Georgia state representative and civil rights activist Julian Bond addressing students at Fisk University in 1972. Bond served from 1967 until 1974.

Courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, Georgia State University Library, National Domestic Workers Union (U.S.) Records, Southern Labor Archives.

Julian Bond

Julian Bond

Julian Bond, pictured at a 1981 press conference at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Atlanta, served as communications director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from 1960 to 1965, when he was elected to the Georgia state legislature.

John Lewis and Julian Bond

John Lewis and Julian Bond

John Lewis (left), who served as executive director of the Voter Education Project from 1971 to 1977, is pictured with Julian Bond in the Mississippi Delta during a Voter Mobilization Tour in 1971.