My hometown of Binghamton, NY was one of over 300 locations across the country that hosted a moratorium event. Former mayor William P. Burns one of the speakers. But the featured address, right at City Hall, was given by Julian Bond. How he ended up in my sleepy little town of 70,000, I have no idea, because he, in both the civil rights and antiwar fields, was a rock star.
Bond helped to found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, when he was 20, organizing voter registration drives, and leading protests against Jim Crow laws.
From the Wikipedia:
In 1965, Bond was one of eleven African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 had opened voter registration to blacks… On January 10, 1966, Georgia state representatives voted 184–12 not to seat him, because he had publicly endorsed SNCC’s policy regarding opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War…
A three-judge panel on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled in a 2–1 decision that the Georgia House had not violated any of Bond’s constitutional rights. In 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 9–0 in the case of Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116) that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Bond his freedom of speech and was required to seat him.
Being against the Vietnam conflict in 1965 was well ahead of the curve, long before Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his April 1967 antiwar address, or when CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite deemed Vietnam a lost cause in February 1968. I well remember how Binghamton evolved on the war from when I entered high school in February 1968 – hostility towards those opposed to it – compared with a year later, when it was a whole lot easier.
At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, he was even nominated to be Vice President, though the 28-year-old was too young to serve.
So, Julian Bond, not yet 30, was a hero to a lot of us by the time he came to town. The picture here was taken by my friend Karen for the 1970 Binghamton Central High school yearbook, the Panorama. The gold version was what appeared in the book.
Bond and Morris Dees go on to found the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and later, Bond served as the head of the NAACP. But early on, I was in awe of Julian Bond. I was sad when he passed away this week.
Learn about the life and work of Julian Bond from the One Person, One Vote Project. See an interview with Bond about the FBI called “Their Goal Was to Crush Dissent” on the website Tracked in America. Bond is the author of Vietnam: An Anti-War Comic Book.
(Thanks to Alan David Doane for technical assistance.)