NAACP chairman to speak Wednesday

Julian Bond, NAACP chairman and a leader in the modern civil rights movement, will deliver a lecture at Geneseo on Wednesday, Oct. 24, as part of the James Jeremiah Wadsworth Endowed Lecture Series. His presentation is titled, "An Evening with Julian Bond: 'Civil Rights: In the Day, Today, and Tomorrow.'"

Throughout his life, Bond has actively engaged in civil rights movements. From his days as a student at Morehouse College to his position today as chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Bond has had a profound effect on social justice and change.

In 1960, he founded sit-in and anti-segregation organizations that helped end racial segregation in Atlanta. In 1965, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, but members voted overwhelming to not seat him due to his public opposition to the Vietnam War.

He was eventually seated, however, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1966 that his rights had been violated. He remained in the House until 1974, when he was elected to the Georgia Senate, where he remained until 1987. Upon his departure from the Senate in 1987, Bond was the most frequently elected black Georgian in history.

After leaving the Senate, Bond continued working in the civil rights arena. Since 1998, he has served as the chairman of the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the country.

In 2002, he was awarded the National Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum for his significant contributions to human rights. Bond will join a list of Wadsworth speakers with impressive resumes such as his own.

According to Laura Wrubel, assistant vice president for college advancement, the decision to invite Bond hinged on two factors. The first involved the Geneseo Foundation, a part of the college's Division of Advancement, whose members are engaged in campus fundraising, development, communications and alumni relations. The foundation believed that Bond's accomplishments would coincide nicely with Cultural Harmony Week, which will take place at the time of his visit. Secondly, according to Wrubel, "Bond was the recommendation of former Vice President [for College Advancement] Richard Dressner, who had met the influential leader several years ago."

Bond's upcoming visit to Geneseo comes at an excellent time, according to Fatima Rodriguez Johnson, the coordinator for multicultural programs & services at the Center for Community, "Bond's lecture, passion and accomplishments will serve to highlight the theme of activism [that Cultural Harmony Week promotes]," she said.

With his lecture right around the corner, Geneseo students and administration members are equally excited. Student Association President Brendan Quinn noted the list of prominent Americans that have been a part of the Wadsworth series, and expressed his excitement saying, "We are very pleased that Bond is coming, and we are excited that the college and the Rochester community get the chance to hear from a legend like Julian Bond."

Freshman psychology major Mike Perrone believes the presence of such an important speaker will "put Geneseo on the map." According to Perrone, "Having a speaker with his background and influence shows that Geneseo is aware and serious about contemporary social issues."

Freshman philosophy major Matt Meyers agreed with Perrone in principle, differing only in his opinion that "hosting Bond as a speaker is a great thing to do for many reasons, but his presentation alone is not a quick fix for making our campus more diverse."

Wrubel believes the lecture will be a great experience for the Geneseo campus. "Bond represents an important part of our history that should not be taken for granted," she said. "People who lived through the civil rights era should be reminded about that history, and people who were not alive at that time should be informed about it."

Bond's lecture will take place at 8 p.m. in Wadsworth Auditorium, and is free and open to the public.