On June 26, 2017, in a moving ceremony in front of the Chevy Chase Community Center and Library, a bench honoring Civil Rights leader Julian Bond was unveiled. Its inscription reads:
In Memory of Julian Bond 1940 – 2015
A Life Dedicated to Civil Rights
The dedication was attended by friends, family and city officials, including Mayor Muriel Bowser and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who initiated the bench’s installation. Also in attendance were a dozen former members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which Bond co-founded in 1960. In her remarks, Cheh commented: “I know it might seem a bit modest for such a grand life, such a giant of a man, but he would be delighted to know that this bench was here.”
“I’m so happy, because Julian always talked about wanting a bench, and now he has a bench,” said Bond’s widow Pamela Horowitz. “We lived in this neighborhood. He walked in the neighborhood a lot, because he said it was his thinking time.” She said she hopes people sit on the bench and “think about how to make the world a better place.”
Julian Bond was the inspiration behind the making of Aviva Kempner’s film Rosenwald. Kempner first learned of Julius Rosenwald’s partnership with Booker T. Washington when she heard Bond give a talk 14 years ago. Bond served as chairman of the NAACP and in the Georgia legislature for 20 years. He advocated for DC statehood and gay rights. His father Horace Mann was the president of Lincoln University and had received a Rosenwald grant.
Some of those attending the ceremony wondered what was meant by “Race Man.” In a Washington Post article, Mark Anthony Neal wrote that “Race man” is a term from the beginning of the 20th century that describes Black men of stature and integrity who represented the best that African Americans had to offer in the face of Jim Crow segregation. It remains an unspoken measure of commitment to uplifting the race. “Race men” inspire pride in their work, their actions and their speech. Biographer Will Haygood wrote of Thurgood Marshall: “He was ‘a race man.’ He was consistently for his race, first and last.” Had the plaque been double-sided, Bond would have liked the back to say, “Easily Amused,” Horowitz said, in recognition of the need to have a sense of humor while doing serious work. Watch an NBC news report here.