Horace Julian Bond

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month.

This year we look at the efforts of Horace Julian Bond (January 14, 1940 – August 15, 2015). Bond was an American social activist, leader of the civil rights movement, politician, professor and writer. During the early 1960s, he enrolled in Morehouse College and helped establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1971, he co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, and served as its first president for nearly a decade.

Bond ran for political office in Georgia in 1965. He was one of 11 African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives that election cycle. He eventually served six terms in the Georgia Senate, from 1975 to 1987. Bond also served as chairman of NAACP from 1998 to 2010, bringing the institution into the 21st century.

Bond was also an outspoken supporter of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. He publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage and in a 2005 speech in Richmond, Virginia, Bond said:

African Americans were the only Americans who were enslaved for two centuries, but we were far from the only Americans suffering discrimination then and now. Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.

Many of us know about the efforts of major civil rights activists but have never heard the stories of those working at ground level to improve the lives of those who are discriminated against. Highlighting the efforts of activists like Horace Julian Bond begins to create a more complete picture of the major efforts taken to ensure all people have the freedoms and rights we expect as Americans.

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