Julian Bond served his community, his state, and his nation well, and with purpose
By Natasha Dowdy Gordon
The news of the passing of Julian Bond on Saturday hit me like a ton of bricks. It is never easy to say goodbye to one of the great ones, but this one hit me especially hard. Some will remember him for everything that he did during the Civil Rights era, some will remember him for the many triumphs that he had as the national president of the NAACP.
There will always be those who will remember Bond as someone who was instrumental in helping to break the chains of apartheid in South Africa. Millions more will continue to benefit from his work as one of the founding members of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that, among its many tasks, tracks and monitors hate groups in the United States, and is a vital part of our nation’s security.
For all of the things that Julian Bond did, and for all that he was, I will remember him as someone that stood at the gate, and deliberately propped it open so that thousands more could walk through. On Friday, I walked the halls of the Georgia State Capital Building proudly wearing my badge which reads, “Natasha Gordon, Chief of Staff, House District 100, Dewey McClain”. When Bond was elected to the Georgia State House of Representatives, he was not allowed to serve the constituents that he was elected to serve because he was not even allowed to take his seat among the legislative body.
Because Julian Bond took a stand against the Vietnam War, justice in relation to his rights as a legislator, and the rights of the people that he was entrusted the honor of serving was denied. It took a Supreme Court decision to afford Bond the right that he had already earned. It is humbling to think that the day before Bond surrendered himself into the arms of his Savior, I walked those same halls to interview a prospective intern for a position as a part of my staff.
It is amazing to think about what the state of Georgia was like in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and what it is like today. The state of Georgia has undergone some major transformations since that time, and although the state is still not everything that it needs, and is destined to be, it has morphed into a place where at least now the gate is open, and there are opportunities waiting to be seized for anyone that wishes to partake of them.
One of the things that I will personally remember with fondness and respect the most about Julian Bond is the fact that he served his community, his state, and his nation well, and with purpose. Anyone can serve, but to serve with a purpose is what all who accept the role and the responsibility of any leadership role should strive to achieve.
When you accept the challenge to dedicate yourself to making the part of the world that you live in, no matter how big or small it may be, a better place to live, you have an understanding that you are using your talents and the gifts that have been bestowed upon you to make things better. You have the understanding that you are in your position to help in ways that others can’t. People like Bond, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. James Orange understood that in order to serve the people, and to fulfill the purpose that they had on this earth, they had to release the one thing that so many who hide behind a title can’t seem to let go of, and that is ego.
There is trouble and injustice all over the United States of America, people are still dying senseless deaths at the hands of police officers, Blacks and other minorities are still not afforded many of the educational opportunities that they are entitled to, and although we now have the Affordable Care Act, people are still being discriminated against in hospitals and other healthcare facilities all across this nation because of mental or developmental disabilities, social economic status, and level of education.
People like Bond not only showed the way, but kicked the gate in so that we can all do and be better. All that is required of us all is that we come to the realization that this life that we live is not about us. There is so much to be done, and it is my sincerest hope that if there is anything good that can come out of the death of a tireless warrior like Bond, is that the organization that he led, his beloved NAACP, becomes the organization that it was when he and Dr. King sat at the top. There are far too many folks sitting in leadership positions in the NAACP at the local, state, and national levels that are there for all of the wrong reasons.
Some are there for self-promotion, some are there because of a thirst for power and control, and some are there to serve as gatekeepers to shut the gate that Bond fought to open. To know what the N.A.A.C.P. was, and to now see what it has become, is mind boggling and disturbing, especially in the state of Georgia.
Georgia is the state where many of those who fought so hard to force this country to face its moral conscience hail from, yet the State Chapter of the NAACP is led by people who disrespect, and walk over the backs of the people that need them the most.
Even worse than that, the NAACP in the state of Georgia is completely ego driven, and it is more than apparent to anyone that takes a look at the structure that there is an underlying agenda in progress, and it is not one that is going to be of much benefit to the people that the organization is supposed to serve, nor is it going to move the masses forward. If anything, the path that the N.A.A.C.P. in Georgia is forging is one of deception and greed, and is certainly not what Bond stood for.
The challenge for the NAACP is to find the strength and the moral fortitude to elect leaders who can put their egos to the side, and keep their thirst for power and control at bay. There are so many things that the Black and other minority communities need, and to put it simply, the country is moving, and the NAACP should be at the forefront of shaping not just the state of Georgia, but the country, for the better.
Those who want to call themselves leaders need to do more than attend the funeral of Bond, or mourn his memory. Decide today to release your egos, and use your talents and your gifts for the greater good verses self-promotion and self-gratification. Bond paid a hefty price for all of you to be where you are, and you owe him at the very least that much.