Civil Rights Leader Julian Bond to Commemorate Kent State’s 13th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Join Us for Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Photo of Julian BondKent State University will hold its 13th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Thursday, Jan. 22, at 4 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. Julian Bond, a leader of the civil rights movement, will serve as keynote speaker at the event. Bond’s keynote address is titled “Crossing the Color Line: From Rhythm 'n Blues to Rock 'n Roll” and is free to attend, but a ticket is required. Visit to download a free ticket. Prior to the event, there will be a memorial march from Ritchie Hall to the Kent Student Center Ballroom beginning at 3:15 p.m.

“We are honored to have Julian Bond as our keynote speaker this year,” said Alfreda Brown, Ed.D., Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. “His speech will be relevant in light of many current regional and national headlines that have gained attention across the United States over the past several weeks. Mr. Bond’s experience will take us back to a time of nonviolent protests and engaged activism during a period of unrest in our nation’s history, and specifically what he did as a leader of students on college campuses in the 1960s. The timing of Mr. Bond’s arrival at Kent State is perfectly aligned as an opportunity to learn new perspectives on age-old challenges.”

Bond, who narrated the May 4 Walking Tour documentary for  the guided tour stations at Kent State’s May 4 memorial site, is 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 has been 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 currently serves 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.

Following Bond’s keynote address, preschool children from Kent State’s Child Development Center will present him with their art project called The Skin I’m In. The art project, created with assistance from three Kent State students, represents the children’s multicultural diversity and their different skin colors that combine to make a beautiful piece of art. Kent State’s Diversity Trailblazer Award also will be presented at the commemorative event in the ballroom. 

The "Just" for a Day service event on Monday, Jan. 19, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. will kick off Kent State’s weeklong series of events commemorating the life and influence of Martin Luther King Jr. "Just" for a Day, which is sponsored by Kent State’s Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, allows members of the university community to participate in community service to a variety of local nonprofit organizations. Register for the event here.

Other commemorative events include “Race in America," the first topic to be discussed as part of the new University Dialogue Series, on Jan. 22 from 1:30-3:15 p.m. at Ritchie Hall’s African Community Theatre (limited seating is available), which will be followed by the silent memorial march that precedes Bond’s keynote address; the May 4 Visitors Center also will be open on Jan. 22. A Cultural Extravaganza will take place on Jan. 23 from 6-8 p.m. at the Kent Student Center Kiva; the Game of Life, an interactive inequality simulation, will take place Jan. 28 from 4:30-7 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Ballroom; and Soup & Substance, which will feature an interfaith panel discussing peace and service to others, will take place on Jan. 28 from noon-1:30 p.m. at the Student Multicultural Center, located on the second floor of the Kent Student Center.

A free ticket is required to attend Bond’s keynote address on Jan. 22, which is open to the public. All other commemorative events are also free and open to the public. 

For more information about these and other commemorative events at Kent State, visit or call 330-672-8563.

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Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield,, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 12:04 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023 03:05 PM
Foluke Omosun