Academic journal article Journalism History

Julian Bond: An Appreciation

Academic journal article Journalism History

Julian Bond: An Appreciation

Article excerpt

Julian Bond will always be the voice of the civil rights history of my time. Bond, who died August 15, 201 5, narrated the peerless fourteen-part PBS documentary series Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years (1954-1965), which aired in 1987, and Eyes on the Prize: America at the Racial Crossroads, 1965-1985, which ran in 1990. Eyes on the Prize was the brainchild of Henry Hampton, a polio survivor who walked with a limp. Because Hampton lagged behind while covering the march on Selma for the Unitarian Church, he saw the indomitable spirit of ordinary citizens fighting ahead on the bridge for their constitutional rights. Selma was Hamptons epiphany. At that moment he conceived what is arguably the most important documentary television journal of all time. Hampton, the engine behind Eyes, chose Julian Bond to be his voice. It was Bond who etched the civil rights movement into my psyche through his matter-of-fact delivery with all intonations stripped clean. This was no editorial or manifesto. The transcript of Eyes on the Prize in the custody of Julian Bond became the statement of how African Americans endured the worst of what American people and their intransigent institutions had dished out, without losing sight of their goal. Bond shaped this history using the same step-by-step cadence of his civil rights brethren. That was the mark of his excellence-to speak unembellished journalistic truth for posterity, right from the opening segment: "The change began slowly, especially in rural areas. Blacks knew they could still lose their livelihood or their lives if they pushed whites too fast. …

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