NAACP Chairman to Address GW Graduates 40 Years After the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Bond to Receive Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree in Recognition of Five Decades of Activism In Pursuit of Equality in the United States

 - Forty years after the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the young men he inspired to devote his life to the cause of civil rights, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, will deliver the 2008 graduation address at The George Washington University's Commencement on the National Mall on Sunday, May 18. Bond will speak to an estimated 25,000 graduates and guests 45 years after King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall in 1963. Bond will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during the ceremony.

"Julian Bond's courageous and principled positions on behalf of racial equality and economic justice have played a central role in our nation's efforts to realize its highest ideals," said GW President Steven Knapp. "His extraordinary record of achievement as a social activist, writer, and teacher has won the admiration of our faculty, students, and trustees, and he honors our university by accepting this invitation."

"This great university honors me," Bond said, "but it also honors the thousands of nameless women and men who made the modern-day civil rights movement possible. Forty years after King's death, these graduates represent a generation that seems willing to take our country's racial dialogue to a new level, and I am delighted to speak to them at their graduation."

Perhaps best known for his status as one of the founding leaders of the civil rights movement, Julian Bond was an activist in college, joining the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960. Bond's commitment to civil rights is deeply rooted; his father, Horace Mann Bond, son of a parent who was enslaved, rose to become president of Fort Valley College in Georgia and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and was an acclaimed sociologist.

In 1965, Julian Bond was elected to the Georgia state legislature, but was denied his seat. He fought his case all the way to the United States Supreme Court. As part of that effort, King spoke out on Bond's behalf and organized a march in support of his right to be seated. The Supreme Court ultimately voted unanimously in Bond's favor, and he went on to serve more than two decades in the Georgia General Assembly.

In 1998, Bond was elected chairman of the NAACP, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. The NAACP will mark its centennial in 2009. Bond also served as the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and is a member of the boards of People for the American Way and the Council for a Livable World. He also serves on the advisory board of the Harvard Business School Initiative on Social Enterprise.

Located four blocks from the White House, The George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the nation's capital. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.

< View All Press Releases