Black Experience

Hundreds Remember Julian Bond

Hundreds paid tribute to civil rights icon Julian Bond, who died last month, during a memorial celebration Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Lincoln Theatre in Northwest.

The 90-minute event highlighted Bond’s life through videos, pictures and speeches that provided a glimpse to his love of music and sense of humor.

“Julian was fond of music. Even the Four Freshmen? Yes, and not just Four Freshmen concerts but annual conventions of the International Four Freshmen Society. He dragged us to one. This passion long mystified me,” said Taylor Branch, Bond’s close friend, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who chronicled the civil rights movement. “Or his claim to suffer from rare emetophobia, a fear of being vomited on at sporting events, which helped him dodge some of Pam’s [Bond’s wife] ardent fandom.”

Dignitaries filled the Lincoln Memorial to pay homage to Bond, who died Aug. 15 at the age of 75, co-founded the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served as a Georgia politician for two decades and a college professor.

Judy Richardson, an associate producer on the documentary “Eyes on the Prize” Bond narrated, recalled when she first met Bond 25 years earlier.

“The first image is from 1963, when I first arrived at SNCC’s National Office in Atlanta. There was Julian, typing with staccato speed, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, dropping ashes onto a perpetually dirty floor,” Richardson said. “Julian could type faster with 2 fingers than I could with all 10.”

Even during his activism, Bond showed his comedic side with an appearance in 1977 on “Saturday Night Live” in a skit called “IQ Tests.” The late actor Garrett Morris asked Bond how the intellectual superiority of white people originated over blacks.

“That’s a very interesting point. My theory is that it’s based on the fact that light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark-skinned blacks,” he said in the skit.

Morris, whose dark-skinned black, replies, “Say what?”

Bond served as chairman on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s board of directors from 1998-2010 and later as its chairman emeritus.

After the ceremony, dozens of people smiled, laughed and told stories on how Bond influenced their lives.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) worked with Bond in 2000 while executive director of the Arca Foundation, an organization in Northwest that focuses on improving public policy.

“Julian Bond has always been one of my heroes. He worked with me on Arca Foundation on voter registration [and] civic participation,” she said. “I always say speak truth to power, too, and if there’s anybody who did that it was Julian Bond.”

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Northwest, admired Bond as a person of principle.

“What made him special for me is Julian was always principled. He always had integrity. He had a fierce honesty, sometimes with tough information. As he would say, ‘Like the rose, truth often comes with thorns.’ He was someone who understood the importance and embodiment of that principal.”

Bond’s wife, Pamela Horowitz, gave brief remarks that were received with a standing ovation.

“Some of you may remember that whenever Julian was asked whether by friend, or stranger, how he was, he would always say, “Almost perfect.” To me he was almost perfect,” she said. “He was the greatest joy of my life and I am so glad that he knew it. I hope today’s service will help lead us all away from the sorrow and back to the joy.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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