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Julian Bond speaks at Commencement

Civil rights activist Julian Bond, speaking at Berea College’s 149th Commencement, urged the 240 graduates to make a promise to use their educations as they leave college for “greater efforts, grander victories” in their own lives and in the lives of others.

Julian Bond Speak At Commencement

Bond, who was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from the college, also related the accomplishments of his grandfather, James Bond, who was born a slave in 1863 Kentucky, and later graduated from Berea College to become a successful teacher and minister.

Albert P. Smith Jr., distinguished Kentucky broadcast journalist and newspaper publisher, was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Berea.

Earlier in the day, Rev. Cindy J. Weber, pastor of Jeff Street Baptist Community in Louisville, spoke at the Sunday morning Baccalaureate Service in Phelps Stokes Chapel. The Nurses Pinning Service took place at 9 a.m. in Union Church Commencement.

Bond 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, and served as Lincoln’s first financial agent when it opened in 1912. His children, including the late Horace Mann Bond, Julian Bond’s father, attended Lincoln Institute. As a Rosenwald Foundation fellow, H. M. Bond conducted research used by the NAACP in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case. Horace Bond went on to earn a doctorate and was a distinguished educator serving as president of two colleges and later as 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, Smith was named co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington. He also is an avid conservationist and historian.

* Photo courtesy: David Stephenson

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