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Julian Bond Will Speak at Commencement

Julian Bond, civil rights activist, will speak at 149th Berea College Commencement on May 23. Kentucky journalist Al Smith will receive an honorary degree.

Civil rights activist Julian Bond will receive an honorary degree and be the speaker at Berea College's 149th Commencement on Sunday, May 23. Bond will address an expected 253 candidates for graduation at the ceremony, scheduled for 2 p.m. in Seabury Center. The title of his address will be “Greater Efforts, Grander Victories.”

Albert P. Smith Jr., distinguished Kentucky broadcast journalist and newspaper publisher, also will be awarded an honorary degree from Berea.

Rev. Cindy J. Weber, pastor of Jeff Street Baptist Community in Louisville, will be the speaker at the Sunday morning Baccalaureate Service, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. in Phelps Stokes Chapel.

The day's other public events include the Nurses Pinning Service at 9 a.m. in Union Church and a reception from 4-5 p.m. outside Seabury Center for graduates and guests following Commencement. Rain site will be Old Seabury Gymnasium.

Bond, whose family connection to Berea extends back three generations, has served as chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1998, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. He also is Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American University in Washington D.C. and a faculty member in the history department at the University of Virginia. Bond has been involved in civil rights activism since he led sit-in demonstrations in 1960 as a student at Morehouse College, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in English. That same year he also helped form the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), serving as its communications director and working in voter registration drives in rural Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.

During more than 20 years in the Georgia General Assembly, first as the first African American elected to the state's legislature and later as a senator, Bond sponsored or co-sponsored more than 60 bills which became law, including a pioneer sickle cell anemia testing program and a state-wide program providing low-interest loans to low income Georgians.

James Bond, grandfather of Julian Bond, was an 1892 graduate of Berea and later served as a College Trustee from 1896 - 1914. During his career he was pastor at churches in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia and was a professor at Fisk University. As financial secretary of Berea he was a principal figure in raising money for Lincoln Institute, a school initiated by Berea College in 1910 after Kentucky's Day Law denied African Americans the right to attend Berea. When Lincoln Institute opened in 1912, James Bond served as Lincoln’s financial agent and enrolled his children in the new school. One of those children was his youngest son, Horace Mann Bond, Julian Bond’s father. Horace Bond went on to earn a doctorate and was a distinguished educator. The late Dr. Bond served as president of two colleges and was later dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University.

Albert P. Smith Jr. is former president of Al Smith Communications Inc., which operated weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee. He also has written and produced numerous award-winning documentaries for Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and is currently the producer and host of KET's weekly public affairs program "Comment on Kentucky." He is the past president of the Kentucky Press Association and a civic and community leader. Smith is the former chairman of the Kentucky Arts Commission and Kentucky Oral History Commission and a former member of the Berea College Board of Trustees. In 1979, he was named co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington. He also is an avid conservationist and historian.

Rev. Weber has been the minister at the justice-oriented Jeff Street Baptist Community for 20 years. As a church-based community organizer and social activist, Weber has been involved with CLOUT (Citizens of Louisville Organized and United) as well as a variety of activities and organizations in urban Louisville that address problems related to civil rights, the needs of area youth, inner-city development and homelessness. She was a founder of Habitat for Humanity’s Louisville chapter and is President and co-founder of Choices, Inc., which provides services for homeless women and children. A native of Tampa, Fla., Weber holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of South Florida and a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.

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