Bill Fletcher Jr.ColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

On the Passing of Julian Bond

Bill Fletcher

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
NNPA Columnist

 
I had been unaware that Julian Bond had been ill. I was, therefore, quite surprised to read that he had passed away after, what the obituary noted, had been a “brief illness.” I had to sit at my computer for a moment and digest the news.

When I first met Julian Bond, sometime within the last 15 years, I still had in my mind’s eye the picture of a young, audacious electoral activist from the 1960s. Although he was still very good looking and very sharp, he had by that point reached the stage of an “elder” in the movement. Yet, being an elder did not mean disappearing or retiring from the movement for Julian. Whether through teaching, writing or serving as the chairman of the NAACP’s board of directors during crucial moments in that organization’s life, Julian Bond was far from a disappearing figure.

Julian Bond will be remembered for many things, including his election to the Georgia state legislature; his being expelled from the same state legislature because of his stand against the Vietnam War; his co-founding and work with the Southern Poverty Law Center; and his chairmanship of the NAACP.  But he will also be remembered as a clear and eloquent voice for social justice, whether that voice took the form of on-air commentaries or in op-ed writings.  He could not be silenced, and for that African Americans and all progressives owe him a major debt.

Julian Bond was from a generation of activists who had a unique courage demonstrated through commitment and action that is alien to most of us. This courage and experience was not something that he held over other’s heads as a way of forcing them to submit to his judgment. Rather, it represented accumulated experience that, if one was lucky enough, one could gleam through even a brief discussion or exchange with him.

Julian Bond shall be missed. We must, therefore, hasten to offer our recognition and appreciation for all that he offered and for the stands he was prepared to take.

 

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.

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Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staffperson in the national AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

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