Civil rights leader speaks on post-racial America
The election of a black man to the presidency is not necessarily an indicator of racial harmony, according to Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Bond talked about the subject of racial inequality when he delivered the keynote address for the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship 20th Anniversary Conference and Alumni Reunion on Thursday.
Bond’s speech focused on the state of racism in America today. He started by noting the changes in the racial picture of America through his lifetime and outlined his goals for future race relations.
Despite the progress made in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Bond said that black schoolchildren are even more separated from white schoolchildren than they were during Martin Luther King Jr.’s time.
“Black Americans today are more likely to be poor than rich and more likely to be worse off than their white counterparts,” Bond said. “This did not happen by accident.”
Bond argued that although blacks have many more opportunities than they did several decades ago, there are still people who threaten the hard work of civil rights activists.
He focused on the tea party and other famous far-right conservatives, such as Newt Gingrich, expressing concern that these marginal viewpoints are now entering the mainstream.
Bond urged the audience to maintain the values of civil rights activists in order to protect the victories achieved by King and others.
“We can’t let them change our country,” he said.
It is the responsibility of today’s generation, Bond said, to continue to fight for racial equality.
He called upon today’s black youth, who he said have been notably absent in the modern movement.
According to Bond, by 2050, blacks and Latinos will make up an estimated 40 percent of the American population.
“It’s about racial justice and economic equality,” Bond said. “They occupied Dr. King’s life, and they ought to occupy our lives today.”
Bond is a widely respected civil rights leader, whose resume includes service in both houses of the Georgia legislature. He is also one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the first African American to be nominated for vice president of the United States.