NLG Mourns Passing of Civil Rights Pioneer, Julian Bond

julian_bond_1966_ap_imgThe National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is deeply saddened by the passing of civil rights trailblazer, Julian Bond, who died Saturday night at the age of 75. A lifelong activist and icon of the American Civil Rights Movement, Bond co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) while attending Morehouse College in the 1960s. Shortly thereafter, he galvanized students, veterans, and activists, organizing voter registration drives and protests in opposition to the racist laws of the Jim Crow South. He served as the first president and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and later chaired the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Following the Voting Rights Acts of 1965, Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives; however, members of the House refused to seat him, citing his outspoken criticism of the U.S. government’s role in the Vietnam War. Bond took his case to the Supreme Court with representation from two NLG attorneys, Howard Moore, Jr. and Leonard B. Boudin—and won. He then served two decades on the Georgia House and Senate—advocating on behalf of low-income residents and communities of color—making him the most elected African American public official in the state’s history.

Bond’s activism against oppression not only included anti-racist work, but also LGBTQ advocacy. As SPLC co-founder Morris Dees said in a statement, “With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.”

Atlanta Guild member Brian Spears commented, “Julian Bond had a profound and lasting impact on the politics of Georgia, the South, and our nation. While in the State legislature, he fought to establish effective civil rights laws, improved welfare legislation, a minimum wage provision, the abolition of the death penalty, increased funding for schools, and anti-poverty programs. His insight, humanity and fighting spirit will be deeply missed by us all.”

Speaking last year in Jackson, Mississippi on the 50th Anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer, the SNCC’s great challenge to the longstanding policies and practices that denied African Americans the right to vote in which the NLG was deeply involved, Julian said:
“Freedom Summer registered few voters. But that was not the measure of its success. It did build community centers, it opened the minds and widened the horizons of many Mississippi children, and it invited America into Mississippi through the eyes and experiences of the summer volunteers… Freedom Summer demonstrated that no part of the United States was ‘off limits’ to civil rights workers.”
During this time of mourning, the NLG remembers the life and legacy of Julian Bond with honor and respect. As we move forward, we will continue to be inspired by Bond’s unwavering dedication to justice and democracy.
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
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