Bond Calls for New Coalition (1968)

For some on campus, the death this weekend of civil rights leader Julian Bond brought back memories of his visit to Hope College on November 26, 1968. He was 28 years old at the time.

His speech and news were covered in Hope College’s student newspaper, The Anchor. The original text of the news article, published on December 6, 1968, follows. View a PDF of the original article on page 2 of The Anchor.

Read Julian Bond's obituary in The New York Times 

Julian Bond, legislator, public relations man, poet and leader of the New Left, came to Hope last week preaching the rise of the new Democratic coalition

Never raising his voice beyond normal range, Mr. Bond answered all questions at his news conferences and following his speech with the surety of a man who knows himself well, his ideas, ideals and goals. The Georgian legislator is a man who is working from within the system where self-restraint is mandatory.

Mr. Bond is a black politician and in that order. Only his manner belies his role in government. His words reveal a black man, angry over the present status of his race and America’s situation internally and abroad, and a determination to have change affected somehow. Julian Bond “tells it like it is, but does so quietly.”

Mr. Bond was not afraid of alienating some white members of his audience to state a truth he did not have to state. “There is no black problem,” he said, “but there is a fantastic white problem.”

The New Democratic Coalition, Mr. Bond said, will fill the needs of those “who don’t feel represented in the old coalition.” The old coalition in the Democratic Party that once contained “all recognizable ethnic groups” has deteriorated into two groups, he said, the blacks and those who hate blacks.

He further stated that at one time the coalition contained organized labor. Now labor “does not organize those who need it, but defends what it has won.”

Mr. Bond’s speech predicted a grim four years for black Americans. The questions of the next four years, he said, will be “How can we live in spite of Mr. Nixon?”

“His closest advisors include Strom Thurmond,” said Mr. Bond of the president-elect, in describing “what kind of time” black Americans “are in for.”

In addition to the election of Mr. Nixon, the Georgian legislator saw other elements which make “the situation worse now than in the recent past.” He noted current wage and unemployment figures of American Negroes to demonstrate the worsening situation.

The Vietnam War also is an element injuring the Negro community, Mr. Bond said. “The war feeds on our community in a greater proportion than on any other group because, for the young black man, the Army is better than the ghetto,” he said.

“Black men and white men sit in the same foxhole in Vietnam,” he said, “but here they can’t sit in the same school room. They together burn down Vietnamese villages, but can’t live together here.”

Julian Bond on the Hope College campus, November 1968

The new coalition must build a force powerful enough to bring an end to rhetoric and to bring on action, he said. “It must organize the unorganized.”

“The new coalition must awaken the conscience of a nation.” This force, he continued, is left two options — wait nonviolently until it is so powerful as to take control from within, or wait until they are strong enough to seize power.”

“Doom and destruction will be in store for America if the new coalition does not organize control,” he said, and pointed to the “rainbow signs” of the violence in the streets and on the campuses as proof of this.

In contrast to his criticism of Mr. Nixon, Mr. Bond at no time decried any person or any segment within the black revolution. When questioned concerning Stokely Carmichael, John Lewis and the Black Panthers, he spoke only of his friendship with these people and his support of them.

His tolerance of nearly all aspects of black action and power can be summarized in his statement, “I support almost everyone.” Mr. Bond believes that the entire spectrum of social-political action has a place in achieving equality for the Negro.

Mr. Bond’s speech contained more than an explanation as to why the New Democratic Coalition is needed. Observable was the poet, a man who spoke through allusions, such as the Snow White syndrome and rainbow symbols. The speech was well-ordered and dynamic, but unobtrusively so. The speech mirrored the man.

© Hope College, "The Anchor, Volume 81.12: December 6, 1968" (1968). Anchor: 1968. Paper 25.