Civil rights activist speaks at UVU

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Images of arrests, burning buses, protests and bombed churches filled the screen behind a civil rights activist as he spoke Thursday morning at UVU.

Julian Bond’s keynote address during the 18th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration was titled “How I Got in the Movement” and included stories of his struggles through the civil rights movement.

“The civil rights movement was made up of ordinary people called to do extraordinary things,” Bond said.

Bond was born to a world of racism in 1940 to a family with a history of injustice. His parent’s grandmothers were slaves and the name Bond was given to them by their owner.

By the time Bond reached college, he was well on his way to becoming a major figure in the fight for justice.

“My job during the March on Washington was to pass out coca-colas to celebrities,” Bond said, “which included Sammy Davis Jr. and all he said was ‘thanks kid.”’

Bond organized the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as well as the Atlanta “sit in” during his time in college. He said the groups used “every legal and non-violent means” to continue the movement.

A former student of King, Bond’s name is one of the few listed on official class roles. He said all of King’s friends called him “Doc.”

One day after class King was walking with Bond and shared with him the difficulties their cause faced.

“I told him to try ‘I have a dream’ and the rest is history,” Bond humorously added.

Bond soon became involved in legislative acts as he ran for office and was denied his seat twice in the Georgia House. He showed a picture of King and himself submitting their ballots.

“Dr. King voted for me, or at least that is what he told me while this picture was taken,” Bond said.

He served as a Senator and director of the NAACP, but along with his civil rights activity Bond also reached out to other interests. He hosted Saturday Night Live in 1977 and refereed a boxing match in which Muhammad Ali fought. He included pictures of himself with numerous celebrities, including former U.S. President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama.

Even though the historical civil rights movement is over, groups are still fighting for racial equality today.  Bond said racism is all around us today and he sees black students still sitting at different lunch tables than white students.

“A small group of committed people can create change if they are willing to take a risk,” Bond said.

He concluded by suggesting people cross barriers and take little steps forward to create change.

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