Special to the AmNews

With the passing of Julian Bond Saturday at age 75 in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., the flood of tributes and expressions of sentiments is a testament to his remarkable service, as are the numerous honors bestowed upon him as a warrior for justice and equality.

But they tell only the most public of his storied career as a fighter for civil and human rights. A personal element of his legacy spilled from a commencement address he delivered in 2009, at Virginia State University. At the closing of his comments, he said, “We all hope that you will do well, but I also hope that you do good.”

His admonishment that they “do good” was an intentional grammatical trope because throughout his bountiful and productive life, he was an unwavering proponent of doing “good,” that is, good for the sake of humanity.

Only in the most detailed accounts of his life do we learn that Bond was the son of Horace Mann Bond, a distinguished educator and a college president, and Julia Agnes Washington, a published author and an acclaimed librarian. Born Horace Julian Bond Jan. 14, 1940, he received a portion of his name from his father and his mother, as well as a dollop of her literary bent.

One of Bond’s early poems was a sendup of one authored by Langston Hughes in which he wrote, “I too, hear America singing, but from where I stand I can only hear Little Richard/and Fats Domino. But sometimes, I hear Ray Charles/drowning in his own tears of Bird Relaxing at Camarillo/Or Horace Silver doodling. Then I don’t mind standing a little longer.”

But by the time he arrived at Morehouse College, his poetry was secondary and he became active in the sit-in movement and a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. In fact, some of his writing skills came in handy as SNCC’s communications director.

Rep. John Lewis, in his autobiography, “Walking With the Wind,” recalled his first encounter with Bond in 1960. “Among the leaders of the Atlanta branch [of SNCC], some of whom I had met but most of whom I had not, was a guy named Julian Bond. He was, like most of the Atlanta members, more upper crust than those of us from Nashville [where, incidentally, Bond was born]. Bond was a Morehouse man. His father had been a college professor. Julian had grown up in an environment of books and thoughts, but he didn’t let any of that get in the way of his humanity or his heart.” Interestingly, in 1986, Lewis defeated Bond in a race for the congressional seat.]

It was during these halcyon days that eminent sociologist Joyce Ladner met Bond and said, “We’d all been influenced by seeing our own parents grasp for justice and equality and were always denied it. Julian never wavered in his fight for justice: We were going to right the wrongs. We were to destroy segregation and racial brutality.”

If they didn’t completely annihilate those evils, they certainly put a considerable dent in their application, and Bond would take that fight into the halls of government when he became a Georgia House representative in 1965. Again, there was the hostility from white state elected officials, who were suspicious of a baby-faced, Afro-coifed politician with an activist background, to say nothing of his opposition to the Vietnam War.

There was a round of musical chairs in the attempt to keep him unseated in the House before the Supreme Court stepped in and made his third bid for office stick. From this momentous decision, Bond would go on to serve 20 years in the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate. In 1978, he became the first Black American to be nominated as a vice presidential candidate. At that time he had already begun serving as the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a position he held until 1979.

Bond’s long association with the NAACP began in 1974, where he was president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP. He was board chairman of the organization from 1998 until 2010. “And he never missed a board meeting,” said Hazel Dukes, president of the New York branch of the organization.

“Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life, from his leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to his founding role with the Southern Poverty Law Center, to his pioneering service in the Georgia Legislature and his steady hand at the helm of the NAACP,” President Barack Obama said in a statement Sunday. “Michelle and I have benefited from his example, his counsel and his friendship—and we offer our prayers and sympathies to his wife, Pamela, and his children.”

Over and beyond his commitment to the political arena and on the ramparts for civil rights, Bond was a commentator on “America’s Black Forum,” and his voice ranged with great conviction as the narrator of “Eyes on the Prize,” possibly the best documentary on the Civil Rights Movement. He was also an inspirational teacher of history at the University of Virginia for several years.

The number of awards, including the National Freedom Award and the Spingarn Medal, and honorary degrees (25 of them) are tangible indications of his accomplishments, but it was his sense of fair play and humor that marked him as a special human being. As he told his wife during the sudden illness before his death, he would have one side of his tombstone read “Race man”; the other side would declare “Easily amused.”

He was indeed easily amused, and he did good.