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Julian Bond’s Advice to Young People: “Get Involved’”

(Note: This article originally appeared on the blog for Enrichment Voyages, a program formerly offered by Semester at Sea.)

Julian Bond lecturing on SAS's Enrichment Voyage (December 2012)
Julian Bond presents his third lecture to the shipboard community.

The shipboard community heard from former NAACP chairman Julian Bond today as he gave his second lecture, entitled “Race Around the World.”

Bond, who humbly concedes that he played “some small part” in the civil rights movement, encourages young people to get involved in their community and the world at large. The best way, he says, is to do so through an organization, since the chances are great that one already exists that is active in doing what you want to accomplish. Of course, Bond is involved in numerous organizations, all of which are worthy of further research. Some of these include the Human Rights Campaign, People for the American Way, and the Center for Responsible Lending.

Although Bond, a former student of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has already seen a great many historical milestones in his lifetime, he still sees many hurdles to overcome. As an example, he’d like to see an extension to the Voting Rights Act, which is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court. Today, states need permission from the federal government to change voting districts, especially where there is a history of denying minorities the right to vote. “If this act is not extended,” says Bond, “we will be taking a large step backwards.”

Of his many accomplishments, Bond sees his victory in the landmark case Bond v. Floyd as one of his proudest moments (although he grants true boasting rights to his lawyer). As Bond sees it, the victory showed that “we have a right to wrong opinions.” With an impish smile, he adds, “Of course, my opinions were right.”

One of his staunchest opinions involves the current civil rights battle being fought by the gay community. “Black and gay people share an immutable condition,” says Bond. “They are what they are, not because of something they’ve chosen. The similarity is so plain. Some people think homosexuality is a choice and that gay people can choose not to be gay. That’s just stupid.”

To those looking to enact change in their everyday lives, Bond says that it’s important to do something any time you see wrong occurring — whether it’s a big or small wrong. Of course, voting also tops his list of must-dos for civic-minded folk.

Enrichment Voyages is proud to play host to such a distinguished figure as Julian Bond. The Morehouse alum says he was attracted to the shipboard program because of the opportunity to travel, particularly to places where he would not have otherwise visited. Last December, during his first voyage with the organization, he visited the Amazon, which he says he probably would not have done were it not for Enrichment Voyages.

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