Julian Bond, who stood shoulder to shoulder with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the early days of the civil rights movement, will be the keynote speaker at MIT's 29th annual breakfast celebrating Dr. King's life and legacy.
Bond, a professor at the University of Virginia and chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will address the theme "Faces at the Bottom of the Well: Nightmare of Reality vs. Dr. King's Dream."
The breakfast will take place on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 a.m. in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the Stratton Student Center. Reservations are required.
The theme is suggested by Derrick Bell, lawyer and civil rights activist, in his 1992 book, "Faces at the Bottom of the Well." In his introduction, Bell wrote:
"Black people are the magical faces at the bottom of society's well. Even the poorest whites - those who live their lives only a few levels above poverty - gain their self-esteem by gazing down at us. Surely they must know that their deliverance depends on letting down their ropes. Only by working together is escape possible. Over time, many reach out, but most simply watch, mesmerized into maintaining their unspoken commitment to keeping us where we are, at whatever cost to them or us."
While an undergraduate at Morehouse College, Bond played a key role in organizing protests that led to the desegregation of Atlanta's movie theaters, lunch counters and parks. Bond himself was arrested for sitting in at the segregated cafeteria in Atlanta's City Hall.
He helped create the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1960 and worked in voter registration drives in rural Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.
He was elected to the Georgia legislature in 1965 and 1966 but was denied his seat because of his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Georgia House had violated his rights, and Bond went on to serve four terms in the Georgia House and six terms in the Senate.
In 1968, Bond co-chaired the Georgia Loyal Delegation to the Democractic Party national convention and was nominated for vice president. He withdrew his name because he was too young to serve.
Bond was the founding president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1971. A longtime member of the NAACP board, he was elected chair in 1998.
He narrated the critically acclaimed 1987 and 1990 PBS series "Eyes on the Prize" and the 1994 Academy Award-winning documentary "A Time for Justice."
Bond is a distinguished scholar in residence at American University and member of the faculty in the University of Virginia Department of History. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Harvard University and Williams College. He is the author of "A Time to Speak, a Time to Act" (1972).
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 18, 2002.