Former NAACP chairman and civil rights icon Julian Bond urged a crowd at Albany State University on Friday night to never to forget the sacrifices made in the civil rights movement and to exercise their hard-earned right to vote to ensure those gains remain.
ALBANY — Even at 71, Julian Bond has not lost his edge. In fact, the civil rights icon might have actually kicked up his intensity a notch.
“The teabaggers tell us they want to take back the country, but I ask what was it like before?” Bond said referring to the conservative tea party movement during a presentation at Albany State University Friday night. “The tea party is ahistoric and racist. They are puppets and their puppet masters are corporations and financiers. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.
“If you value your country you better exercise your right to vote.”
In the early 60s, as a student at Morehouse College, Bond was a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and later became the Southern Poverty Law Center’s first president.
He was elected to both houses of the Georgia legislature, where he served a total of 20 years, and was chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1998 to 2010.
He urged his ASU audience not to forget history, but to remember and honor the sacrifices made for them and to always keep an eye on the future.
“When I speak about the Albany Movement, all of you know, or should know, Martin Luther King thought he had failed in Albany in 1961, but he did not fail,” Bond said. “Albany is a very different city today because he was here. What many don’t understand is this was a people’s movement, it did not revolve around one man. We saw wrong and took action against it; we saw evil and brought it down.”
Bond has always been an unyielding critic of the Republican party, but Friday night he vented most of his wrath upon the Tea Party.
“The teabaggers are slaves to religious fundamentalism. What has changed to make them so angry?” Bond asked. “It’s only been 45 years since segregation was outlawed nationwide. More blacks, both men and women, hold public office than ever before. Yet Glenn Beck accuses President Obama of harboring a deep-seated hatred of white people.
“Jim Crow may be dead and buried, but racism is alive and well. Young people need to remember that we didn’t just wish our way to freedom.”
He then urged students to get involved because the struggle is far from over.
“We will always need activists, they are the foot soldiers of the freedom army,” Bond said.