Julian Bond (Finding Aid)

Julian Bond

1940 -

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Food: Mashed Potatoes and Lima Beans

Favorite Time of Year: Summer

Favorite Vacation Spot: Gulf Coast of Florida

Interview Length: 146 minutes

Interview Date(s): April 21, 2000

Interview Location(s): Washington, D.C.


Julian Bond talks about his family background of elite, highly-educated African Americans--examples of the "Talented Tenth"--a term coined by W.E.B. DuBois who was, in fact, a friend of the family. Bond's grandfather, James Bond, born in slavery, became one of the organizers of the Lincoln Institute, created after Kentucky forced Berea College to segregate. Julian Bond's father, Horace Mann Bond, was the first president of Fort Valley State College in Georgia and the first black president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Bond's mother Julia Washington was a Fisk graduate and the daughter of a Nashville school principal. He discusses his father's views on educational policies for African Americans. Bond speaks of his parents with admiration and affection, and he fondly recalls his childhood on the college campuses where his father worked. He describes his small elementary school in Pennsylvania, which only became integrated due to a lawsuit filed by his father; he himself was not very conscious of segreg

Julian Bond recalls the end of his time in high school, including a romance with a white classmate from the George School, the Quaker boarding school he attended in Pennsylvania. He discusses his aspiration to become a writer, inspired by his father, the well-respected scholar and college president Horace Mann Bond. Julian Bond admired his father's meticulous marshalling of facts to prove a point, and gives as an example a speech his father gave in response to racist claims about black intellectual inferiority in which the elder Bond was able to cite statistics showing that higher IQ test scores was linked more closely to indoor plumbing than to race. Julian Bond relates his family's move in 1957 to Atlanta, Georgia, where he enrolled at Morehouse College. He describes the excitement he felt at being among such a large group of black students from several colleges and the vibrant atmosphere of Atlanta's African American community with a great variety of retail and entertainment establishments. In 1960 the st

Julian Bond recalls his experiences as a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] and later as a lawmaker in the Georgia legislature. He tells about the founding of SNCC in 1960 and their desire from the start to be independent of the other civil rights organizations. SNCC opposed the ceding of power to strong national leadership figures, instead believing strongly in grassroots organizing and self-empowerment. By 1965 SNCC was encouraging rural African Americans--who had only recently won the right to vote--to run for public office. Bond himself ran for the Georgia state legislature, with a campaign staff of SNCC people whose great experience organizing and communicating with people helped him win his election. But, incensed by a recent SNCC anti-war statement, the legislature refused to seat him. Bond recounts the ensuing year-long battle that finally ended in a Supreme Court order that he be seated. Bond quit SNCC in mid-1966, uncomfortable with the separatist direction in

Julian Bond talks about his experience as a state legislator, his bitter 1987 Congressional campaign loss and his work in recent years as a university teacher. Bond believes that picking his battles carefully and focusing his energy enabled him to achieve his successes in the Georgia state legislature--such as the creation of a black Congressional district in Atlanta. He reflects on the hard-fought Congressional campaign for election in the district he had been instrumental in creating and his "crushing" loss to fellow civil rights veteran John Lewis. Bond speaks frankly about this low period in his life, during which he dealt with not only the end of his long political career but also the break-up of his marriage of many years. Since the late 1980s Julian Bond has been teaching courses on the Civil Rights Movement at various universities. He found that he loves teaching and he feels encouraged that history is now being taught with a greater focus on grassroots level activists. He reflects on the challenges

Julian Bond discusses the recent past of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP] as well as his hopes for the organization under his leadership as chairman; he would like the group to move back toward its original mission of social justice rather than social services.

Various photographs from Julian Bond's personal collection, including photos of Bond as a child with his family, as a young civil rights activist in the 1960s, during his career as a State legislator in Georgia, with other state and national political figures, and more recent photos from the 1990s.

61 Stories (See Ordered Story Set)