Newsweek, Lit Hub, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Atlanta Journal Constitution pick Race Man by Julian Bond as one of their Most-Anticipated Books of 2020!
"This compilation of works by social activist and civil rights leader Julian Bond should be required reading in 2020."—Juliana Rose Pignataro, Newsweek
"Bond's essays, speeches and interviews were powerful weapons in his lifelong fight for civil rights."—The New York Times
"Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life. Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that."—President Barack Obama
An inspiring, historic collection of writings from one of America's most important civil rights leaders.
No one in the United States did more to advance the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. than Julian Bond. Race Man—a collection of his speeches, articles, interviews, and letters—constitutes an unrivaled history of the life and times of one of America’s most trusted freedom fighters, offering unfiltered access to his prophetic voice on a wide variety of social issues, including police brutality, abortion, and same-sex marriage.
A man who broke race barriers and set precedents throughout his life in politics; co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and long-time chair of the NAACP; Julian Bond was a leader and a visionary who built bridges between the black civil rights movement and other freedom movements—especially for LGBTQ and women's rights. As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century, there is no better time to return to Bond's works and words, many of them published here for the first time.
"Endlessly grateful for this collection of work that shows the expansive nature of Julian Bond's ideas of black liberation, and how those ideas are woven into the fabric of both resistance and uplift. Race Man is the map of a journey that was not only struggle and not only triumph."—Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us: Essays
"Race Man is the essential collection of Julian Bond's wisdom—and required reading for the organizers and leaders who follow in his footsteps today."—Marian Wright Edelman, President Emerita, Children's Defense Fund
"Race Man is a staggering collection that offers a genealogy of Bond's freedom-oriented politics and soul work as captured in his written words. Race Man is a book that looks back and speaks forward. It is a timely example of what movement building can look like when servant leaders refuse to leave the most vulnerable out of their visions for Black freedom. We need that reminder, like never before, today."—Darnell L. Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America
" [An] essential volume that will appeal to a broad audience of readers interested in the civil rights movement and human rights overall . . ."—Library Journal, Starred Review
"Bond's years as an activist also offer a guide through the intellectual and political history of the left in the second half of the 20th century . . . Bond's essays capture the intellectual world that inspired him and that he helped inspire in turn."—Robert Greene II, The Nation
|Publisher:||City Lights Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Horace Julian Bond was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, politician, professor and writer. In 1960, while attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bond was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, leading student protests against segregation. A founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, he served as its president in the 1970s while sitting in the Georgia House of Representatives. In 1968, Bond led a challenge delegation from Georgia to the Democratic National Congress, where he became the first African American and the youngest person to ever be nominated for Vice President of the United States, though he was ineligible due to his young age. In 1975, after ten years in the Georgia House, he served six terms in the Georgia senate, after which he taught at numerous colleges including Drexel and Harvard. In 1998, Bond was elected Board Chairman of the NAACP and, after his term, remained active as Chairman Emeritus for eleven years. He is the author of A Time To Speak, A Time To Act, a collection of his essays, as well as Black Candidates: Southern Campaign Experiences. His writing has appeared in many magazines and newspapers. He remained President Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center until his death in 2015.
Michael G. Long is the author or editor of numerous books on civil rights, religion, and politics, including We the Resistance: Documenting A History of Nonviolent Protest in the United States; Race Man: Selected Works of Julian Bond; I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters; Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall; and First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson. Long has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, ESPN’s The Undefeated, and USA Today, and his work has been featured or reviewed in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, and many others. Long has spoken at Fenway Park, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives, and he has appeared on MSNBC, PBS, C-SPAN, and National Public Radio.
Read an Excerpt
Editor’s Introduction by Michael G Long
I first met Julian Bond when he agreed to an interview for a book project about Martin Luther King, Jr. and gay rights. My hope was to secure a comment on Bernice King’s antigay preaching and her claim that her father, Martin Luther King, Jr., “did not take a bullet for same-sex unions.”
We met for lunch in a busy restaurant near his home in the leafy northwest section of Washington, DC. He was nattily dressed, as usual, and caught the attention of several patrons, women and men, as we walked to our seats. I was not sure whether they recognized him for his civil rights work or were just struck by his good looks and straight carriage. He and I were both about six feet tall at the time, but I vividly recall feeling much shorter as I trailed behind him.
In preparation for our time together, I discovered that Bond, unlike other civil rights leaders, Walter Fauntroy and Fred Shuttlesworth, for example, had argued for a number of years that gay rights were civil rights. “Of course they are,” he often said. “Civil rights are positive legal prerogatives—the right to equal treatment before the law. These rights are shared by all. There is no one in the United States who does not—or should not—share these rights.
Indeed, there was no other African American leader from the 1960s who so closely tied the black civil rights movement to the LGBT movement. Bond conceded that the two movements were not exactly parallel—gays do not have a history identical to slavery, and “people of color carry the badge of who we are on our faces”—but he maintained that the thread connecting the two was discrimination based on immutable characteristics. “Science has demonstrated conclusively that sexual disposition is inherent in some; it’s not an option or alternate they’ve selected,” he said. “In that regard it exactly parallels race. ... Like race, our sexuality isn’t a preference. It’s immutable, unchangeable.”
That was an unpopular position among conservative black ministers, many in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who regularly wielded biblical passages to condemn homosexuality as an immoral and sinful lifestyle choice. But Bond was insistent. “If your religion tells you that gay people shouldn’t get married in your church, that’s fine with me,” he said. “Just don’t let them get married in your church. But don’t stop them from getting married in city hall.” Marriage is a civil right granted by the government, not a religious right granted by churches, and religious believers “ought not to force their laws on people of different faiths or people of no faith at all.”
Bond also argued that his position was in line with the trajectory of King’s civil rights work. “I believe in my heart of hearts that were King alive today, he would be a supporter of gay rights,” Bond said. “He would see this as just another in a series of battles of justice and fair play against injustice and bigotry. He would make no distinction between this fight [for gay rights] and the fight he became famous for.”
Bernice King disagreed with that point, and Bond was well aware of King’s conservative position. In her 1966 book, Hard Questions, Heart Answers, King had sharply criticized “men who accept homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.” Gay men aren’t “real men,” she argued, and they are to blame for “the present plight of our nation.” King continued to express her antigay theology when she joined Bishop Eddie Long’s ministerial staff at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. In 2004, she and the bishop—who had long depicted gay sex as unnatural and contrary to God’s design for male and female genitals—traveled to New Zealand to offer their support to a church movement seeking the defeat of a civil union bill that would have extended legal recognition and rights to gay and lesbian couples. It was during this trip when she delivered her most memorable line to date: “I know deep down in my sanctified soul that he [Martin Luther King, Jr.] did not take a bullet for same-sex unions.”
I asked Bond about that claim, suspecting he would either offer a bit of gentle criticism or simply sidestep the question. But Bond’s genteel manners, smooth voice, and sartorial splendor belied the ferocity of his reply.
“I don’t think you can call her anything except a homophobe,” he said. “You can say she’s mistaken or uneducated or not as well-versed in things as she might be, but she’s just wrong on this. And there’s one word for that—homophobe. She’s homophobic.”
He then launched into a lengthy criticism, faulting King for refusing to read, let alone learn from, her father’s papers, and for choosing instead to follow Bishop Long and his homophobic preaching. Although he spoke in a quiet and mellifluous tone, it was clear that Bond was disgusted and angered by what he depicted as Bernice’s perversion of her father’s legacy.
That’s when I realized that I wanted to study Julian Bond. When I heard him passionately condemn Bernice King’s truncated vision of her father’s inclusive ministry, when I watched him lean forward to emphasize that the black civil rights movement was expansive rather than static, when I saw his eyes light up when speaking of his own role in the LGBT movement, and when I sensed his delight that progressive movements often claimed the mantle of the civil rights movement—that’s when I told myself that I just had to dig into the life and legacy of Julian Bond. It took some time, but this book represents the culmination of my efforts to make good on that conviction.
The next time I contacted Bond was when I invited him in 2012 to write the foreword to I Must Resist: The Life and Letters of Bayard Rustin. He accepted the invitation without hesitation and, true to form, penned a clear, concise, and compelling piece. “I knew Bayard Rustin; he was a commanding and charismatic figure,” he wrote. “I was taken by his platform personality, his way with words, and his ability to persuade.”When I read those words today, they call to mind not only Rustin but also Bond himself. Like Rustin, Bond was a commanding and charismatic figure; even a cursory review of his many video interviews will reveal as much. Like Rustin, “the intellectual bank” of the civil rights movement, Bond was a personal think tank to whom various human rights advocates would turn for credibility, wisdom, and strategic thinking. Like Rustin’s, Bond’s way with words, polished early on by black church and Quaker educators, was characterized by clear thinking, deliberate pacing, prophetic content, and intersectional analysis.
I returned to my idea of studying Bond’s life and legacy in the early days of the Trump presidency, while I was working on a book about nonviolent resistance in US history. Bond’s name kept popping up, especially in the period in which the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) issued its statement opposing the Vietnam War and calling for freedom fighters to engage in battle against racial injustice. After Bond had announced his support for the controversial statement, racist members of the Georgia state legislature, with support from the state’s white media, denied him his elected seat in the house chambers. It was a very low point in US political history, not unlike the one in which we now find ourselves—a time when antidemocratic leaders, even in the Oval Office, seek to crush peaceful dissenters who dream of equal justice for all.
Revisiting the racist attempts to squelch Bond, I thought it would be helpful to resurrect Bond’s voice for our present struggle against the racist forces of injustice that attempt to crush dissidents in the Age of Trump. I knew I had made the right choice when I began my research of his papers at the University of Virginia. In the early days of my research, to tell the truth, I did not know a whole lot about Bond other than the basic information available in numerous civil rights books: he was the son of the famous African American educator, Horace Mann Bond; he worked in communications for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; he was denied his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives; he was nominated to be the Democratic candidate for vice-president while he was still too young to serve in the office; he was elected as a state representative and senator; he lost his bid to become a US representative to John Lewis; and he served as the chair of the NAACP. I also knew that Bond had narrated “Eyes on the Prize,” the award-winning documentary about the black civil rights movement and its monumental legacy. In fact, there were few things I enjoyed more as a professor than introducing my students to Bond’s moving descriptions of the nonviolent foot soldiers who overcame the nightmarish obstacles between them and the “beloved community” of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.
What I did not know as I began my research was that Bond had carefully documented his own work in the black civil rights movement and his relentless efforts to steer the movement from protest to politics and to connect it to evolving movements for the rights of women, the poor, the elderly, prisoners of color, prisoners on death row, victims of police brutality, black Africans, and those with special needs, among others. What I didn’t know was that no one from the black civil rights movement, not even Reverend Jesse Jackson, had sought more consistently and doggedly to establish solid connections between the black civil rights movement and the many progressive movements it inspired, sometimes in ways that it could never have predicted. And what I didn’t know was that Bond’s numerous papers included radio commentaries, newspaper op-eds, syndicated columns, letters, notes, television interviews, oral history interviews, and other means of communication, many of them explaining his sharply pointed, and progressive, positions on virtually every significant human rights issue in his lifetime.
This book is not a biography. It’s a collection of Bond’s remarkable works, written and spoken, that address the most important issues and events of the latter half of the twentieth
century and the beginning of the twenty-first: civil rights and reparations for slavery, the Vietnam War and political dissent, welfare and domestic colonialism, liberation movements in Africa and Alabama, Watergate and political corruption, racism and anti-Semitism, political prisoners and the death penalty, environmentalism and energy, women’s rights and abortion, affirmative action and rap music, LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, AIDS and social security, terrorism and the War on Terror, and voting rights and the Confederate flag, among others. Also included in this collection are Bond’s assessments of the major political personalities of the same time period: John Lewis and Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elijah Muhammad, Eugene McCarthy and Richard Nixon, Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, Jimmy Carter and Vernon Jordan, Fannie Lou Hamer and Roy Wilkins, John F. Kennedy and Herman Talmadge, George H. W. Bush and Clarence Thomas, Ronald Reagan and Angela Davis, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, Louis Farrakhan and O.J. Simpson, and George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And, of course, Julian Bond.
So many folks approached Bond for articles, commentary, speeches, and interviews because they knew that he had something to say—actually, he had a lot to say—and that he could say it with remarkable clarity, precision, and brevity. That was his gift, and he shared it generously.
Bond’s words in this book are not merely things of the past; they’re living and breathing, fresh and refreshing, and ripe for picking. If there’s anything that his words reveal without qualification, it’s that Julian Bond was one of the most eloquent and brilliant leaders of The Resistance—that group of political activists who, on the one hand, oppose anyone and anything that undermines equal justice under law, and on the other, devote their lives to building what Dr. King called the “beloved community,” a time and place marked by racial reconciliation, political equality, economic justice, and peace. Bond’s brilliance was grounded less in his street resistance —he never really preferred being on the frontlines of nonviolent direct action campaigns—than in his thoughts about strategies for resistance, ways to build the beloved community, and the connections we can make as we resist and build in the post-King years.
I have edited Bond’s works with a light hand, changing a few grammatical errors here and there and cutting thoughts that go astray from his main points. I have also excluded those pieces which bear his name as author but were clearly penned by others. In the few cases where I have included pieces penned by those who helped him write speeches or articles on rare occasion, I have made it a point to indicate coauthorship. Nevertheless, I can state with confidence that the great majority of selections included in this book offer us Bond’s unfiltered voice—an inspiring, instructive voice that warns us of bigots while imploring us to organize our communities into pockets of resistance that embody and enact not only the spirit of the civil rights movement but all the human rights movements that Bond embraced with such energy and enthusiasm.
* * *
SNCC and JFK
Part of Bond’s work was to telegram the Kennedy administration about crises that posed serious and imminent danger to the lives of SNCC workers. On June 12, 1963, just one day after President Kennedy had delivered his historic civil rights address, Bond sent Robert Kennedy the following telegram: “Request federal marshals to protect Negro citizens and voter registration workers in Dallas County, Alabama, where SNCC field secretary Bernard Lafayette was brutally beaten last night. Will the federal government act to protect the rights of American citizens in the South? We also request that you take immediate steps to halt persecution of seven voter registration workers jailed and beaten in Winona, Mississippi.” Like his SNCC coworkers, Bond was disappointed with the Kennedy administration’s lack of attention to civil rights as well as the slowness of its actions when it did monitor the movement. Below is Bond’s 1993 account of his assessment of President Kennedy before and after his assassination.
We know so much more about public figures today than we did when I was young; their private and public lives are laid bare for all to see. It is harder to have heroes now. When I ran for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives for the first time in 1965, a pinch-penny campaign treasury dictated that most of my electioneering would be conducted in person. This candidate wasn’t seen in television ads or heard on the radio; my constituents-to-be saw me first on their porches and heard me after they’d answered their doors.
If I could talk my way inside, where I could deliver my election pitch away from the competition of street sounds, I almost immediately saw one feature common to nearly every home in the low-income district in Atlanta I wanted to represent. Almost every living room wall had three pictures, heroes, usually hung together: Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy.
Seeing the late president’s picture there summoned many memories, both for the voters whose homes I had invited myself into and for me.
When my coworkers in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and I first heard, on the early afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, that President Kennedy had been shot, we immediately assumed the attack on him came from forces opposed to his views on civil rights.
Those views weren’t ours. We thought the 3-year-old Kennedy administration had been cowardly in enforcing existing civil rights laws, cautious in seeking new, stronger legislation from Congress, and too eager to trade justice for order when racist whites threatened violence against civil rights forces in the South.
In his time in office, Kennedy had failed to satisfy critics like us: young black men and women who had left our segregated southern college campuses to work fulltime in the activist civil rights movement that spread like wildfire after the sit-ins began in earnest in early 1960.
In fact, some of our resentment against Kennedy stemmed from his failure to properly acknowledge the way he had won the White House. News of a telephone call he had made to the wife of jailed civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., expressing his sympathy, had been trumpeted to black voters in the closing days of the 1960 campaign. When Vice President Richard M. Nixon refused to comment on King’s arrest and jailing, 30 percent of black voters shifted their allegiance from the Republicans to candidate Kennedy.
King had been arrested in an Atlanta sit-in. We sit-in veterans felt the new president owed the growing movement some reward for having given him the opportunity to claim the White House.
But with a narrow Democratic margin in Congress, and with Southern committee chairs dominating the flow of legislation, civil rights retreated from the new president’s agenda. A campaign promise to eliminate housing segregation “with the stroke of a pen” was stricken from the agenda until civil rights supporters flooded the White House with pens.
In 1961, groups of Americans known as Freedom Riders boarded buses to test orders requiring integrated interstate transportation facilities. The president’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, with the president’s approval, negotiated an agreement with Mississippi Sen. James O. Eastland to allow Mississippi to arrest the Freedom Riders under the very segregation laws which the U.S. Supreme Court had already declared illegal. In return, Eastland guaranteed the only violence done to the Freedom Riders would be to their constitutional rights, not their bodies.
After violence against the Freedom Riders produced embarrassing headlines in newspapers around the world, the Kennedy administration persuaded movement activists to abandon confrontational tactics like the riders, and to place their energies into registration drives, promising federal protection for registration workers. Any protection was slowly given, however, and then only when white violence was threatened, not when black rights were violated.
Our elders, men and women who had long labored in civil rights in the years before we were old enough to sit in a high chair, let alone at a lunch counter, warned that we didn’t understand politics, that Kennedy’s heart was in the right place, that he could do more quietly than by making a big noise.
For us, it didn’t matter. He was the president, sworn to uphold the Constitution. We knew that the Constitution guaranteed our right to work for civil rights without fearing attacks from midnight riders or small town sheriffs, and we wanted the new president to believe what we believed too.
There were times during his 1,000 days when he did believe, and when we believed him. During the middle of King’s campaign in the summer of 1962 against segregation in Albany, Ga., Kennedy reminded Albany’s white officeholders that the United States was negotiating with the Soviet Union. Why, he asked, couldn’t Albany’s city government negotiate with its own citizens?
The Kennedy administration conspired with Albany officials to have a local lawyer secretly pay King’s bail, freeing him from jail. Robert Kennedy had privately complained to an Albany lawyer that King’s jailing there had embarrassed “the United States in the court of world opinion. It must be terminated by any means necessary.”
Just five months before he was killed, Kennedy claimed the civil rights mantle we had wanted him to wear.
In a partially extemporized speech from the Oval Office, he told the nation, as no president before him had ever done, what was being fought over in the American South.
“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue,” he said. “It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”
Table of Contents
The Love Endures by Pamela Horowitz
Practicing Dissent by Jeanne Theoharis
The Atlanta Student Movement and SNCC
The Fuel of My Civil Rights Fire
The Conversation That Started It All
A Student Voice
Let Freedom Ring
Lonnie King Is Acid Victim
The Murder of Louis Allen
SNCC and JFK
Freedom Summer: What We Are Seeking
How to Remember the Atlanta Student Movement
SNCC: Alienated, Paranoid, and Near Collapse
Vietnam and the Politics of Dissent
The Right to Dissent
I Consider Myself a Pacifist
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Vietnam
Elijah Muhammad and the 1968 Democratic National Convention
Eugene McCarthy and a New Politics
The Warfare State
Rethinking Violence in America
Angela Davis Is a Political Prisoner
The Failure of Kent State
Lessons from Vietnam
Two Black Colonies
The Population Bomb as Justification for Genocide
Escaping from Colonialism
The United States Is a Colonial Society
Liberation in Angola and Alabama
South Africa: The Cancer on the African Continent
Nixon and the Death of Youthful Protest
Nixon’s Black Supporters Should Shuffle Off
Uncle Strom’s Cabin: The Reelection of Richard Nixon
The New Civil Rights Movement
Nixon’s Racist Justification of Watergate
George Wallace Still Champion of the Politics of Race
Blacks and Jews
Why No Riots?
The Death of Youthful Protest
Uncle Jimmy’s Cabin
Carter Hides His Red Neck
Election 76—A Political Diary
Why I Can’t Support Jimmy Carter
SNCC Reunites, Carter Is Absent
Blacks Are Politically Impotent
Griffin Bell and the Right to Dissent
Blacks and Moral Suicide
Carter Ignores Blacks
Political Prisoners in the United States
Carter’s Misguided Fight Against Inflation
Civil Rights Milestones
Fannie Lou Hamer: Lady in a Homespun Dress
The Civil Rights Movement: The Beginning and the End
The Racial Tide Has Turned Against Us
King: Again a Victim
The 25th Anniversary of Brown: Time to Do for Ourselves
- E. B. Du Bois and John F. Kennedy—Which Is Greater?
Roy Wilkins: A Reasonable Man
Our Long National Nightmare:
Reagan, Bush, and the Assault on Women
Reagan and South Africa
A New Social Darwinism: The Survival of the Richest
My Father and the Death Penalty
Nicaragua and Paranoia
The Break that Never Healed: John Lewis’s Painful Criticism
Operation Rescue Is No Civil Rights Movement
A Kinder, Gentler Nation?
My Case Against Clarence Thomas
The Need for More Civil Rights Laws
In Defense of the NAACP
Dear Michael: Advice for Running for Office
The Measure of Men and Racism:
Jefferson and King, Clinton and Dole, Farrakhan and Simpson
The Most Useful Founding Father
Remembering All of Dr. King
Bill Clinton and Hope for America
Failures: Gingrich and Dole
Clinton Against Dole
Louis Farrakhan Is a Black David Duke
The Unsurprising Acquittal of O. J. Simpson
King Supported Affirmative Action
King and the Death Penalty
The George W. Bush Years:
The War on Terror and the Fight for
Poor Blacks, Women, and LGBT Rights
Racial Injustice in the Criminal Justice System
Social Security and African Americans
September 11 and Beyond
Slavery and Terrorism
Our Leaders Are Wrong About the War
The NAACP and the Right to Reproductive Freedom
Are Gay Rights Civil Rights?
AIDS Is a Major Civil Rights Issue
Why I Will March for LGBT Rights
In Katrina’s Wake
We Must Persevere
Barack Obama and Ongoing Bigotry
Civil Rights: Now and Then
What Barack Obama Means
Homophobia and Black America
Same-Sex Marriage: More than a White Issue
Religion-Based Exemptions Discriminate Against LGBT People
The Civil War and the Confederate Flag
Voting Rights: Which Side Are You On?
Voting Rights Again: The Most Pressing Domestic Issue Today
We All Must Protest
Our Journey Is Nowhere Near Over
Afterword by Douglas Brinkley