I’d like to take a minute to remember Julian Bond, who died yesterday at 75 after a life dedicated to social justice and civic action. A founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Bond was a legend of the Civil Rights Movement, a successful politician, a leader of the NAACP, and a pioneering health advocate who helped raise awareness of sickle cell anemia’s impact on the African American community.
On a personal level, I can say that I don’t think I’d be here working for CPEHN today were it not for what I learned from Professor Bond. While I was at the University of Virginia, I had the privilege of taking his course, the History of the Civil Rights Movement. The class was less a traditional lecture and more an oral history. He casually told anecdotes about his time in the movement. While his stories included names that have long been immortalized in history books, he showed the same reverence to the thousands of people who risked everything to stand up to injustice. As he said recently in Wisconsin:
“Most of those who made the movement were not famous, they were the faceless. They were the nameless, the marchers with tired feet, the protesters beat back with fire hoses and billy clubs, and the unknown women and men who risked job and home and life.“