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Monday, August 17, 2015

Julian Bond: goodbye to a smart, beautiful soul who dabbled in politics

2012 photo of Bond by Eduardo Montes-Bradley
I first saw and heard Julian Bond speak at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Al. in the late 1960's, soon after his name was placed in nomination for Vice President at the 1968 Democratic Convention. I interviewed him for a public television speaker's series in the late 1970's. I became his Facebook friend in 2011.

What I loved most about him were his jokes. He referred to politics as being second only to the world's oldest profession - prostitution. He could tell jokes dryly without breaking a smile.

Here's one of my favorites from my book "Word to the Mother" which gives a hint at his political humor taken from his speech at the University of Kentucky in the late 1970's. 

"I live in Atlanta, Georgia which, as you may know, is a large, sophisticated, cosmopolitan city. But many years ago when I was just a boy, I lived in a small town in rural Georgia. This was really a teeny, tiny place. I guess many of you would call it a 'plain' place. It's a little town called Fort Valley.

"Now, when I lived in Fort Valley, it was distinguished as the home of two institutions. One was the Blue Bird Bus Manufacturing Plant. They manufactured Blue Bird bus bodies. The other was a little four-year college, which when I lived there was called the Fort Valley State College for Negroes. Georgia, like Kentucky, has undergone tremendous progress in the last few years, so much so that this college is not called Fort Valley State College. It's still pretty much for Negroes, however.

"In this town, among the couple hundred people living there, there lived a minister and a politician. The two men were close friends, but despite their friendship, they argued almost constantly about which of them performed the greatest service for humankind. The minister used to say, 'It is I because I take care of problems in the hereafter.' The politician would say, 'No, it's I because I take care of problems right here on Earth.'

"Well, this argument between them just went on and on, and it probably would be still going on today except one morning, the minister got up early and looked out his front window, and to his great shock and chagrin saw a dead jackass in his driveway. He called the politician on the phone and said, 'See here, there's a dead jackass in my driveway. I want you to have it hauled away.' The politician said, 'I don't know why you're calling me. You're suppose to bury the dead.' The minister said, 'Yeah, but I'm also suppose to notify the next of kin!' "

That was Bond, Julian Bond, at his best. He will be missed.

(I will post pictures of our 1970's interview after I find them in my personal archives.)


  1. GC says: I read about his passing yesterday, what a loss. Seems the best go first!

  2. RR says: That was well written, and a nice remark on a man that lived to make a difference. Thanks, Tomi.

  3. HT says: An icon in Civil Rights for sure....

  4. Julian Bond and I are nearly two years apart in age. I grew up knowing about him and thinking highly of hm for all of his work. He will be missed.


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