Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, speaks during the 97th Annual Convention of the NAACP, Sunday, July 16, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, speaks during the 97th Annual Convention of the NAACP, Sunday, July 16, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, speaks during the 97th Annual Convention of the NAACP, Sunday, July 16, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(New York Times) – After Julian Bond’s death on Saturday, The Times published a lengthy and well-written obituary summing up the life and work of the civil rights champion. But many readers were bothered by a single sentence in the front-page article:

“Julian Bond’s great-grandmother Jane Bond was the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer.”

Many readers wrote to me to protest the phrase, on the grounds that a slave, by definition, can’t be in the kind of consensual or romantic relationship that the word “mistress” suggests. One of them noted it wasn’t the first time the phrase had appeared in a Times obituary.

Many of the readers echoed the sentiments of Shaun King, who wrote on Daily Kos:

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