The Barack Obama of the 1960’s

Not a vacant seat was left in the lecture room of the Alice Campbell Alumni Center Wednesday night. Some students were forced to gather around the sides of the room, and speakers were brought out for those who overflowed into the neighboring room.

Civil rights leader and writer Julian Bond spoke at the center about civil rights history and his personal experiences with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.as part of the Agents of Change series in celebration of Black History Month.

“Julian Bond was the Barack Obama of the 1960’s,” said Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers, the group that hosted the event.

Richardson thanked the University, especially University of Illinois President B. Joseph White, for its help and collaboration in the project. The HistoryMakers’ goal is to be the nation’s largest collection of video-oral history of black people, and currently 10 University students are participating in the project.

Jabari Asim, Scholar-in-Residence at the University, interviewed Bond about his part in civil rights history.

Bond was privileged to grow up in a family dedicated to pursuing education to its highest levels.

While at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bond was one of only eight students with the singular privilege of having Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as his teacher. His interest in writing later led him to journalism, which allowed him to develop his communication skills. It was while he was at Morehouse that Bond began his lifelong career in civil rights, and has been highly active in the political, literary and activist worlds.

Using anecdotes and words of advice, Bond encouraged his fellow African-Americans to continue working towards a better future.

“There’s more work ahead of us,” Bond said, saying that although Obama’s inauguration was a huge step, American society is far from where it should be.

Bond also talked about his experience growing up in a period of time that for most people in the room was completely unknown outside of the textbook.

Students like Astarté Howell, freshman in FAA, said they felt they learned a lot by attending.

“It was really profound,” she said. “Seeing someone who’s lived through it makes it all the more real.”