UVA Symposium to Explore ‘Arc and Touchstones’ of Julian Bond’s Career

Julian Bond

A University of Virginia symposium organized in remembrance of Julian Bond, one of the most prominent advocates for social justice to emerge from the American Civil Rights Movement and an Arts & Sciences faculty member for 20 years, will open next week. “Keep the Movement Coming On,” scheduled for Oct. 20-21, will feature a series of panel discussions exploring the history of the Civil Rights Movement as well as its contemporary and global impact.

Julian Bond

Panelists will include documentary filmmakers, former NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous and officials from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that Bond helped to found in the early 1960s, as well as scholars from the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, the University of Maryland, Duke University, N.C. Central University and other universities. Historian Taylor Branch, the award-winning author of the “America in the King Years” trilogy, is scheduled to appear for the closing panel discussion titled “From ‘Freedom Now’ to Black Lives Matters: Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement in Contemporary Social Protest.”

The Bond symposium also will feature Arts & Sciences faculty members participating as discussion moderators and panelists, including Deborah McDowell, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies Director and chair of the symposium’s planning committee; Maurice Wallace, associate professor of English and associate director of the Woodson Institute; and Aniko Bodroghkozy, professor of media studies. Assistant Professor Jack Hamilton (American Studies/Media Studies) will be making a presentation, along with Kwame Otu, a new assistant professor in the Woodson Institute, and Julius Fleming, a Woodson post-doctoral fellow.

The public panel discussions will be held in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library. The series of events scheduled for Oct. 20 concludes with a musical performance at the Paramount Theater titled “Written in the Key of Justice, ” featuring John D'earth, director of the Department of Music’s Jazz Performance program, and the original SNCC Freedom Singers (8-9:30 p.m.) A complete schedule for the symposium can be found here: www.virginia.edu/woodson/julianbond/schedule.html.

“In organizing this event, we were guided first and foremost by the ‘road map’ that Julian Bond left us through the words he wrote, the speeches he delivered, and the stances he took—in public and private—against myriad and intractable forms of injustice,” McDowell said. “While some panelists will consider the arc and touchstones of Bond's impressive 50-year career, others will provide a critical overview of the Civil Rights Movement, assessing its achievements, measuring its failures, and formulating new strategies for continuing the never-ending struggle for freedom, justice, and social change, including in the classroom.”

One of the foremost leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, Julian Bond joined the Arts & Sciences faculty in 1992 and taught courses within the Corcoran Department of History for two decades. More than 5,000 UVA students took his popular “History of the Civil Rights Movement” course. During his time on Grounds, Bond also co-directed the University’s “Explorations in Black Leadership” oral history project and led a series of dinners for faculty and staff organized by the Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity. He continued to contribute to University initiatives after his teaching tenure concluded. In 2014, he led his eighth Civil Rights South Seminar, a popular tour that took participants to Atlanta, Birmingham and Selma, Ala. and other historic sites within the Civil Rights Movement.

Bond was one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the early 1960s. He emerged on the national scene as the leaders of a series of anti-segregation protests against public facilities in Georgia. The first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Bond served as chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1988 until 2009. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, including 28 honorary degrees, Bond received the Library of Congress Living Legend Award in 2008.

The symposium’s theme, "Keep the Movement Coming On," is excerpted from "Faces at the Bottom of the Well," a speech Bond delivered at MIT in February 2003, in celebration of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. In that speech, Bond chose to focus his remarks on an aspect of King's legacy often lost in popular discourse: his consistent efforts to foreground economics and his advocacy on behalf of workers and the poor. King, Bond reminded his audience, understood that Black Americans are “almost entirely a working people . . . Our needs are identical to labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, [and] respect in their communities.” Bond concluded, “That there are proportionately few black people working today is an indictment of our times and a reflection of our failure to keep the movement coming on.”

Bond died at the age of 75 in 2015. His wife, Pamela Sue Horwitz, is scheduled to attend the symposium.