Horace Julian Bond (January 14, 1940 – August 15, 2015), known as Julian Bond, was an American social activist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement, politician, professor, and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped to establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Bond was elected to four terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and later to six terms in the Georgia Senate, having served a combined twenty years in both legislative chambers. From 1998 to 2010, he was chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On April 17, 1960, Bond helped co-found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He served as the communications director of SNCC from January 1961 to September 1966, when he traveled around Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas to help organize civil rights and voter registration drives. Bond left Morehouse College in 1961 to work on civil rights in the South. From 1960 to 1963, he led student protests against segregation in public facilities and the Jim Crow laws of Georgia.
He returned in 1971 at age 31 to complete his Bachelor of Arts in English. With Morris Dees, Bond helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a public-interest law firm based in Montgomery, Alabama. He served as its president from 1971 to 1979. Bond was an emeritus member of the Southern Poverty Law Center Board of Directors at his death.
In 1965, Bond was one of eleven African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965 had opened voter registration to blacks. By ending the disfranchisement of blacks through discriminatory voter registration, African Americans regained the ability to vote and entered the political process. Although he was initially undecided about his party affiliation, Bond ultimately ran and was elected as a Democrat, the party of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act into law. From 1967 to 1975, Bond was elected to four terms in the Georgia House, where he organized the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.
In January 1967, Bond was among eleven House members who refused to vote when the legislature elected segregationist Democrat Lester Maddox of Atlanta as governor of Georgia over the Republican Howard Callaway. Callaway had led in the 1966 general election by some three thousand votes. The choice fell on state lawmakers under the Georgia Constitution of 1824 because neither major party candidate had polled a majority in the general election. Former Governor Ellis Arnall polled more than fifty thousand votes as a write-in candidate, a factor which led to the impasse. Bond would not support either Maddox or Callaway, although he was ordered to vote by lame duck Lieutenant Governor Peter Zack Geer.
Bond went on to be elected for six terms in the Georgia Senate, in which he served from 1975 to 1987.
During the 1968 presidential election, Bond led an alternate delegation from Georgia to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where he became the first African American to be nominated as a major-party candidate for Vice President of the United States. The 28-year-old Bond quickly declined nomination, citing the constitutional requirement that one must be at least 35 years of age to serve in that office.
Bond ran for the United States House of Representatives from Georgia’s 5th congressional district in 1986. He lost the Democratic nomination in a runoff to rival civil rights leader John Lewis in a bitter contest. While Bond had raised twice as much money as Lewis and had a larger national reputation, Lewis cast himself as the man on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement and ran up large margins over Bond among white liberals in Atlanta. As the district had a huge Democratic majority, the nomination delivered the seat to Lewis, who still serves in Congress.
After leaving politics, Bond taught at several universities in major cities in the North and South, including American, Drexel, Harvard, and the University of Virginia, where he taught until 2012. Bond was on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service.
Bond died on August 15, 2015 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, aged 75. He is survived by his wife Pamela Sue Horowitz, his five children, James (a brother), Jane Bond Moore (a sister), and eight grandchildren.