Julian Bond, the black civil rights activist who was thrice elected to the Georgia legislature before the US Supreme Court finally ruled that the Georgia House could not deny him his seat, died on August 15.
Julian Bond was a student at Morehouse College, one of the colleges that made up Atlanta University, when I was a student at Georgia Tech. I was active on the International Students Committee at Tech. The committee had sponsored several dark skinned students from abroad, and we could only get them into the movie theaters by having them wrap their heads in turbans and show their Ga Tech student ID. As Ga Tech itself was segregated, a Tech ID was proof that the movie ticket purchaser was on the right side of the color line. We were interested when we heard that Bond had formed a student rights organization working to desegregate the movie theaters in the city.
Some of us from Tech began attending meetings of Bond’s organization at the black colleges that comprised Atlanta University. There I met Bond and Lilian Smith, authoress of Strange Fruit. A collaboration developed with Ga Tech students participating in Atlanta’s first civil rights march through the city. The march was led by Halmar, a tall blond Norwegian who was a graduate student in Chemistry at Tech. No dogs were sicced on the march.
It was a rewarding experience to see people standing up for their constitutional rights. In those days at least white people had constitutional rights. In the 21st century a white president and a black one have taken away everyone’s civil rights. Today a civil rights movement is needed more than ever, but where are the leaders?