January 14, 1940 – August 15, 2015 raised in Nashville, Tennessee
the sit-ins in greensboro, north carolina, ignited a spark. Like many other Negrosma college students, Morehouse College student Julian Bond wanted to replicate that direct action against segregation in Atlanta. He joined several other students in co-founding the Committee of Appeals for Human Rights (COAHR), which began sit-ins in soup kitchens and bus stations. “In our opinion,” Bond recalled, “segregation at the lunch counter was the greatest evil facing blacks in the country.”
bond soon realized that the food counters were a symptom of bigger problems. At the SNCC founding conference at Shaw University in April 1960, she gained a deeper understanding of what blacks were up against. There, Ella Baker’s speech, “More Than a Burger” inspired Bond and the other young attendees to think more about the scope of what it took to effect the change they wanted.
prior to his final semester at morehouse, bond dropped out and began working full-time for sncc as director of communications and editor of the organization’s newspaper, the student voice. sncc’s voter registration efforts were reported to sncc’s communication department. When violence occurred, telegrams in the name of the SNCC president were immediately sent to the Justice Department with copies to news services and newspapers. photos of burned or bombed churches and houses in the sncc project areas were also sent. precision was key. “If we were going to try to break the blackout on black atrocities…” explained Mary King, a member of the communications staff, “the worst thing you could do would be to exaggerate, and Julian’s instinct was to downplay the numbers and be very, very cautious.”
in 1965, ivanhoe donaldson encouraged bond to run for the georgia state legislature and became his campaign manager. Charlie Cobb, though initially leery of electoral politics, joined this new effort along with Judy Richardson. bond ran his campaign in the democratic style of sncc’s “little d”, knocking on doors and involving the community throughout the political process. they didn’t want people to just vote; they wanted ordinary people to feel that they had a significant voice in the way their government was run. “I see this campaign,” Bond said, “as an opportunity to show that ordinary citizens have decision-making power.”
bond went door to door asking people what they wanted their agent to do. Most blacks weren’t used to this style of campaigning, and Bond recalls that “literally 100% of the people I surveyed have never had anyone come into their house and sit down and talk to them seriously about their community”. bond took community feedback to heart and developed a platform that focused on raising the minimum wage, ending literacy tests, and repealing right-to-work laws.
bond won the election by a wide margin, but the georgia state legislature refused to give him a seat because of sncc’s opposition to the vietnam war and bond’s refusal to disavow the organization’s position. so he campaigned and won again, but was denied a seat again. After winning a third election, the Supreme Court ordered the state legislature to issue bonds. On January 9, 1967, at the age of twenty-six, Julian Bond was sworn in and took his seat in the legislature.