Monday, August 17, 2015

Remembering Julian Bond

Yesterday, I was scrolling down my Facebook news feed and I noticed that a colleague posted an article announcing the passing of civil rights icon Julian Bond. I was stunned, shocked and speechless as you can tell from my last post.  Often, we assume that people are going to be here forever. Yet, we are aware of our morality.  We are all just visitors passing through this place called life.

As many people know, I work for the NAACP. When I first began working for the Association in 2004, Julian Bond was the Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. Although I have been in the same room with him on many occasions, I did not know Mr. Bond. I never had a single conversation with him. I regret that.  Unlike many of colleagues, I never took an individual photo with him.  However, I did meet him once and shook his hand. For that, I am proud. Although I have great respect and admiration for the man, I was just too reserved to play the role of fan. Quietly, I was in awe to be in his presence.

For me, Mr. Bond was an unapproachable, larger than life figure, walking history. The legendary brother was a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Stokely Carmichael, Thurgood Marshall and many other great black men and women. From the early 1960s until the day of his passing, Mr. Bond was at the forefront of the fight for equal rights and social justice. He was a trail blazer. Mr. Bond supported "marriage equality" before many of his colleagues. He supported it before it became popular and mainstream. Although I still do not support gay marriage, I recognize and commend Mr. Bond for having to the courage to stand by his convictions. I commend him for his consistency and vision.

When Bond was Chairman, I always looked forward to hearing his powerful speeches at the NAACP National Convention. During those days, the Bush Administration was in power. I enjoyed hearing him rail against the extreme right with brutal honesty and unadulterated truth. Not only did he challenge the right, he challenged the left as well.  He did not spare so-called progressives such as former President Bill Clinton. Not only were his speeches fiery, inspiring and entertaining, they were truly educational. Every speech was an informative, scholarly and engaging history lesson. During every speech, class was in session. I miss that. We will all miss Chairman Bond. He was one of a kind. May he rest in peace and power.