“to create knowledge that transforms our views of the world and, through sharing and application, transforms the world.”
Memories of Julian Bond (1940 – 2015)
Keynote Speaker at SJI’s Freedom Dreams/ Freedom Now Conference in 2014
I first met Julian Bond as a graduate student in the early 1990s when I was working on my dissertation on Ella Baker. I gave a paper on Baker at the Organization of American Historians’ annual meeting. I saw Julian (who I thought of as Mr. Bond at the time) in the audience. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) veterans are a tough bunch. They don’t mince words and they don’t like folks meddling in their history, unless they are prepared to do enough work to get the story right. So, I was nervous when I saw Julian coming toward the stage after the panel. Maybe I could act like I did not notice him and hurry off in the other direction. But there was no time. He looked right at me, striding with a confident gait, and a purposeful gaze. These were not good signs, I thought to myself. When he finally reached me, he stuck out his hand and said “well done.” What a relief. I moved forward with greater determination to finish the dissertation and then the book. Every time I saw him after that he was friendly, warm, and generous.
Like Dr. King, Julian Bond came from a Black family of relative privilege. His father received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago at a time when few African Americans even finished high school. He went on to serve as president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Julian became a Morehouse man, like Martin King, but unlike Martin he dropped out of college to work fulltime in the movement. He could have enjoyed a more comfortable life than he did. He could have been a lawyer or academic and avoided the conflict and struggle that defined his political career. He did not take the easy road. He was a founding member of the SNCC in 1960 and in 1965 he was elected to the Georgia State Legislature but encountered stiff opposition because of his principled stance against the war in Vietnam. He went on to serve 20 years in that same body.
One of the most impressive things about Julian Bond was that he was not selective in his advocacy for justice. After the 1960s he fought for a range of progressive causes. In the 1980s he was arrested in front of the South African embassy protesting the racist system of Apartheid in South Africa. Later, as chairman of the NAACP, he spoke out for reproductive choice, declaring in one speech that abortion rights were equal to the right to eat at a desegregated lunch counter. And he did not shy away from gay rights. He was so adamant that homophobia could not be tolerated that he refused to attend Coretta Scott King’s funeral because it was held in the church of a notoriously anti-gay minister in Atlanta. He testified before Congress on immigration reform. At age 73 he was arrested in front of the White House demonstrating his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and his support for environmental justice. He was not afraid of controversy or suffering discomfort for his beliefs.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, the pivotal moment in the U.S. Black Freedom Movement when young people (including Julian) allied themselves with southern black maids, teachers and sharecroppers to challenge Jim Crow disenfranchisement and violence. We hosted a conference in Chicago to commemorate that anniversary called Freedom Dreams/ Freedom Now. Julian was one of our keynote speakers. The audience of 500 people was riveted as he recounted dramatic episodes in the history of the movement, especially highlighting the issue of government surveillance. He had been reluctant to come to Chicago last spring, given other commitments and travel obligations, but I persuaded him that his voice was needed. He finally agreed and in the end he told me he was glad that he came. We were too. He was impressed with our students and young activists with whom he interacted. He was thinking of both the past and the future.
I will always remember Julian Bond for his humor, his wit, and his charm. But I will also remember that he did not take the easy road. A group of quilters joined us for Freedom Dreams/ Freedom Now gathering and created a beautiful mosaic quilt reflecting the connections between many different justice struggles. I will think of Julian when I look at that quilt. It aptly symbolizes what his life was about. When he referred to his people he meant all of us.
by Barbara Ransby
UIC wins Mellon grant for social justice series
The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Social Justice Initiative has been awarded a $175,000 Sawyer Seminar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a yearlong seminar series beginning in January.
The Sawyer Seminar operates like a temporary research center for interdisciplinary exchange in the humanities and social sciences, where faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and guest speakers participate in intensive study and public programs...(read more)
August 2015 Summer Film Series: Defining Race. Diagnosing Racism.
What is the social, legal, and political history of racism in the United States? How do we even define race? These are critical questions that inform how we understand and talk about these issues today. From the recent controversy about the racial status of a white woman claiming to be black (Rachel Dolezal), to anti-police violence protests in Ferguson, Missouri and dozens of other cities, race continues to be at the center of what defines and divides us as Americans and world citizens. Join us for three thought-provoking documentaries about the social construction of race in the U.S.
When: Wednesdays in August 2015
Time: 6:00pm- 8:00pm (based on length of film)
Location: 1255 S. Halsted | PUJA - Pop Up Just Art Gallery
Facebook and Twitter: #ChicagoSJLens
- August 12, 2015, “Ethnic Notions". is Marlon Riggs’ Emmy-winning documentary that takes viewers on a disturbing voyage through American history, tracing for the first time the deep-rooted stereotypes which have fueled anti-black prejudice. Through these images we can begin to understand the evolution of racial consciousness in America.
- August 19, 2015, "The Story We Tell” traces the origins o the racial idea to the European conquest of the New World and to the American slave system - the first ever where all the slaves shared similar physical trails and a common ancestry.
- August 26, 2015, "The House We Live In," is the first film about race to focus not on individual attitudes and behavior but on the ways our institutions and policies advantage some groups at the expense of others.
Social Justice Minor
In the Fall of 2015, Gender and Women’s Studies in partnership with the Social Justice Initiative will offer a minor in Social Justice. This minor will allow students to gain experience working with community-based organizations and provide opportunities for students to combine their experiences with new skills and strategies for future careers in organizing, non-profits, or applying a social justice lens to any professional field. Students who minor in Social Justice will learn about strategies to work toward social change, discuss movement work and link local movements to global ones. Minoring in social justice will entail focusing on critical analyses of social systems and movements that create and perpetuate equality and inequality. Additionally, all minors will complete at least one in-depth community-based learning experience with a partnering organization.
To learn more about the Social Justice Minor, click here.
Interested students please contact Emily at email@example.com
First Recipient of the Nesbitt, Carrasco, Unzueta Border Crossing Scholarship
The 2015 Recipient of the Nesbitt, Carrasco, Unzueta Border Crossing Scholarship is Jocelyn Munguía Chavez...read more
"28, 43" A Photographic Exhibit Opening
Over 70 people attended the opening reception for "28/43": Ferguson to Ayotzinapa, a photo exhibition at our new Pop Up JUST Art space at 1255 S. Halsted. Over 140 people have visited the gallery and 6 classes have visited the exhibit.
Gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 12 to 5 p.m. and by appointment. To schedule a class or group visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org