Julian Bond’s Kent State Speech Resonates Forever

Civil Rights Leader’s Speech Left Lasting Impression

With the recent passing of Julian Bond, the civil rights leader’s January visit to Kent State has taken on new meaning for those touched by his life and mission. The university joins the nation in mourning for Bond, who took part in a town hall meeting on Jan. 22 and later delivered the keynote address in a ceremony honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King.

Julian Bond“His words were as relevant today as they were 50 years ago, and his passing is a true loss for our country,” said Alfreda Brown, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  “Julian Bond’s connection with Kent State also includes his narration for the May 4th memorial site guided tour stations. Bond’s legacy includes helping to establish the Southern Poverty Law Center, formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the N.A.A.C.P., and having served 20 years in the Georgia General Assembly.”

In his speech at the Kent Student Center, Bond discussed America’s history of racial struggles along with the progress that’s been made and the challenges that remain.  His entire speech can be viewed as part of the university’s Martin Luther King Celebration at https://video.kent.edu/media/1_aa3dly47.

Bond died Aug. 15 in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. He was 75 years old.



Bond, who narrated the May 4 Walking Tour documentary for the guided tour stations at Kent State’s May 4 memorial site, was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and a professor emeritus in the history department at the University of Virginia. He was at the forefront of civil rights activism for several decades. He helped to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. In 1998, he was elected board chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and he served as its chairman emeritus. He also helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center and served as its president from 1971 to 1979. Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, serving from 1965 to 1975. He also served six terms in the Georgia Senate, from 1975-1986. In 1968, Bond led a challenge delegation from Georgia to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and was the first African-American nominated as vice president of the United States. He withdrew his name from the ballot because he was too young to serve.

Bond has published A Time To Speak, A Time To Act, a collection of his essays, as well as Black Candidates Southern Campaign Experiences. His poems and articles also have appeared in several magazines and newspapers, and he has received 25 honorary degrees.

POSTED: Monday, August 17, 2015 - 3:10pm
UPDATED: Monday, August 17, 2015 - 3:17pm
Eric Mansfield