Tribute: Julian Bond tributes are still pouring in. He may be with the ancestors now but the news clips, audios and videos continue to roll in. I especially loved Julian, Alice Walker’s poem. It will make you cry. I loved Bond’s last interview done only a few weeks ago in Boston. It’s a must listen/read. His memory was also honored recently with the re-airing of Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved The Way, Saturday afternoon, (August 22). In that show Bond along with other Civil Rights legends, were featured including Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, Berry Gordy, Jr., Rev. C.T. Vivian, Diane Nash, Dick Gregory, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Rev. Joseph Lowery, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Marian Wright Edelman, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier and others. Click here for info. Catch this show if you can. It will do your heart good to see our living legends.
As we watched the program, my husband Byron and I both lamented the loss of a great peace warrior. Julian was a celebrity for us in the Boomer generation. What I mean by the word ‘celebrity’ is different from what today’s youth think about celebrity. To my generation (60+), a celebrity is someone who deserves to be celebrated. What I admired about Julian was that he was a celebrity who was ‘down with the people.’ He really did not act like a celebrity. If you met him, he chatted with you. You could actually call him on the phone. He would answer his emails promptly. Who does that anymore? Not too many people! He was friendly and helpful to everyone especially students who saw him everyday at UVA. He was a gentleman with old-school manners.
Julian was also a leading heart throb for the ladies of my generation. As one Sista said: “He was so foine!” I do hope that more young people will get to know him better. So, for newbies, I would recommend viewing the film Eyes on the Prize, which Julian narrated. This film and a variety of his essays and poems can give newcomers an introduction to this amazing multi-generational leader.
My personal connection to Bond was through my husband’s television show, America’s Black Forum (ABF), a nationally syndicated black news show. A close family friend, Julian was employed there as host for many years. Do you remember that pre-internet TV show? There are boxes and boxes of tapes of America’s Black Forum at our home in storage on VHS and CDs. We hope to convert them for modern viewing one day. I met him at social occasions. At these events, he would move freely around the room, visit everyone’s table to chat and joke. He liked to be with the people. Many stars surround themselves with handlers and you can’t get near them. Julian was different. He was very funny and approachable. He liked to take photos with folks too. A few months ago, I sent a note asking for help with a project. He readily responded. I was so excited that he replied! We attended Julian’s retirement party billed as a Julian Bond Gala at New York City’s Plaza Hotel.
Here’s an excerpt from my blog post:
“Human Rights icon, Julian Bond was honored with a star-studded formal gala at the Plaza Hotel on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The event was a combination Civil Rights reunion, retirement party for Julian, professor at the University of Virginia (UVA) and fundraising effort to elevate and advance the teaching and interpreting of Civil Rights Studies. Comedians Wanda Sykes and Chris Tucker were the gala emcees at Julian Bond’s event at Plaza Hotel. UVA hopes to create the Julian Bond Professorship in Civil Rights and Social Justice. This chair will make it possible to attract outstanding teachers and scholars who can build on Julian’s legacy and make UVA the nation’s leading center on Civil Rights literacy and its continuing impact on the American History narrative.
“It is critically important that students and the public know the history of the Civil Rights Movement so that concerned citizens can recognize any effort to reverse advances in equal opportunity and empowerment for women and minorities,” said Bond.
Let’s keep Bond’s dream alive of teaching Civil Rights Studies and Literacy in every classroom and university! He was brilliant, visionary, courageous, generous, humorous and most of all a bright star of our time.
Do you have a Julian Bond story or photo? Please share.