Julian Bond cofounded the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1962 at the age of 22. I never met him, but while I was in Austin, Texas in 1963, SNCC sent a group of students to train us in Gandhian principles of non violence so that we could win hearts and minds to the cause of civil rights. They taught us songs, which I teach each year in Sing Thing, and they gave us a history of how non violent direct action has been used in many causes. We did role playing to see if we could remain polite and respectful in the face of the nastiest of behaviors. They could get pretty nasty, too. I have found that training of immense value in my life.
Julian went on to become the youngest member of Congress from Georgia at 27. He had to take his case to the Supreme Court in order to be allowed to be seated. He founded the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) with attorney Morris Dees, he was head of the NAACP for a long time and eventually went back to teach at Morehouse College, his alma mater. He was one of 6 students who could say that they actually were taught by Martin King when he taught a course at Morehouse during Julian’s student years. He hosted Saturday Night Live in 1977 and was a very funny guy. He was recently arrested for locking himself to the fence outside the White House in opposition to the Keystone Pipeline. He stood firmly on the side of LGBTQ rights and same sex marriage and said so publicly. He is survived by his wife, Pam and 5 children. He has a bunch of grandkids, too. He continued his activism up until his death. He was robust until shortly before he passed away.
When Sing Thing begins in October we will sing one of those great songs SNCC taught us in remembrance of a great American.