When he was a college student, Julian Bond was arrested for sitting in at a segregated cafeteria at Atlanta City Hall. He founded the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights at Atlanta University, and he took part in three years of non-violent protests to win integration of Atlanta’s movie theaters, lunch counters and parks.
More than 50 years later, the civil rights activist boasts other accomplishments as a politician, writer, teacher and lecturer. On Jan. 18, he will share some of his stories at Willamette University as a part of the two-week-long Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
“You just have to keep going and keep on trying,” says Bond about fighting for social justice. “Eventually, if you try hard enough, you will succeed.”
Bond’s talk, titled “From Civil War to Civil Rights,” will trace the history of civil rights attempts in the United States, focusing on the recent past.
During his own life, Bond has fought to right many wrongs through serving four terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and six terms in the Georgia Senate. From 1998 to 2010, he also served as chairman of the NAACP National Board.
“There is nothing as fulfilling as helping someone else,” he says about his work. “You get a feeling of satisfaction after you’ve done that that you can get almost no place else.”
When he was in college, Bond says he took the one and only philosophy course taught by King, where he learned more about the Civil Rights Movement than he did philosophy. That experience, and seeing everything King later accomplished, inspired Bond to fight for social change himself.
Although much has been accomplished since King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Bond says he dreams of the achievements that are to come.
“The disparities between black and white life chances need to be erased,” he says. “To do that, you march, you protest, you demonstrate. You file lawsuits and petition people in public office. There is really no new way to go about these things. You just refine the old way.”
Julian Bond’s lecture is scheduled for Jan. 18 at Smith Auditorium. His talk begins at 7:30 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m.
For the general public, tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door. They are available at salemmulticultural.org or by calling 503-581-2004. Ticket proceeds will benefit the World Beat Festival.