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Civil rights leader addresses current racial issues

	Julian Bond is the former 11-term chairman of the NAACP. He spoke at the Stone Center on Tuesday.

Julian Bond is the former 11-term chairman of the NAACP. He spoke at the Stone Center on Tuesday.

Few can say they have been taught by Martin Luther King Jr. and chatted with Albert Einstein — but Julian Bond can claim both.

Bond, founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and 11-term chairman of the NAACP, spoke Tuesday at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for the 2013 Charleston Lecture.

He spoke about the racial struggles the country still faces.

“America is race. From its symbolism to its substance, from its founding by slaveholders to its divergent rending by the Civil War, from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin,” Bond said.

Patrick Horn, associate director for the Center for the Study of the American South, which co-hosted the event with the Stone Center, said Bond has a lot to offer because he was a student activist.

“The force of his example is so positive and so instructive. He helped found SNCC and was instrumental in the founding of numerous other civil rights organizations,” he said.

Bond emphasized that it is crucial for Americans to be both aware and involved.

“We are now asked to believe that despite three centuries of horror, no permanent damage has been done to the oppressors or the oppressed. We are asked to believe that we Americans are now a healed and whole people. The truth is that Jim Crow may be dead, but racism is alive and well,” Bond said.

Freshman Lindsey Terrell said she was struck by the parallels Bond drew between the civil rights movement and modern-day racial struggles.

“The same institutions are still in place today, they are just manifested in different ways, and he definitely brought that to light,” she said.

Junior Matthew Taylor said he was inspired by Bond’s continual involvement in the civil rights movement.

“Julian Bond is a living piece of history. He’s extremely integral to the civil rights movement, and he still does such amazing work to this day,” he said.

Bond said even the smallest actions can have an impact.

“Sometimes it is the simplest of things — sitting at a lunch counter, going to a new school, applying for a marriage license, casting a vote — that can challenge the way we think and act,” he said.

“Racial justice, economic equality, world peace — these were the themes that occupied Dr. King’s life, and they ought to occupy ours today.”

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