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 “Race Man” 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.
Pamela Horowitz, widow of Julian Bond, (standing, center) and veterans of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) gathered to dedicate a bench in honor of Bond.
Councilmember Mary Cheh spoke about Civil Rights Leader Julian Bond.
In 1923, the Pine Grove School was one of fifteen Rosenwald schools in Richland County, South Carolina. The Pine Grove School is the only original Rosenwald School in the county that still stands today.
Brothers Graeson and Kincaid Cunnings portray former Rosenwald students Jasper and James during the dramatized “Visit with Former Rosenwald Students.” – Photos by Lisa Smarr
In 1912, the Rosenwald Fund contributed money for the building of such schools for African-Americans in the southern United States. Pine Grove closed in 1950 and for decades remained uninhabited and in disrepair. The school would finally be restored in 2004 as the Pine Grove Community Center on 937 Pineywoods Road. In 2009, the center was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Mack Burgess hosts Catfish Stew Tasting. –Photos by Lisa Smarr
Last February in honor of Black History Month, the Pine Grove Community Center was a site for a heritage celebration. Activities included a dramatization and visit with former Rosenwald students; heritage food, games, and crafts including quilt making, butter churning, catfish stew, and hopscotch; and special guest visits from historical figures “Julius Rosenwald” and “Booker T. Washington”
Mr. Booker T. Washington (left), portrayed by Shaban Ghaffur and Mr. Julius Rosenwald, portrayed by Bryan Lee, welcome guests into the Pine Grove School.- Photos by Lisa Smarr
On December 5th, 1966, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Georgia Legislature violated Julian Bond’s constitutional rights by refusing to seat him. Bond, a Negro civil rights worker and official of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, was twice barred from his elected seat in the Georgia House because he supported a committee statement describing U.S. policy in Viet Nam as aggression.
Julius Rosenwald was inducted into the National Museum of American Jewish History on May 18th of this year. Be sure to check out Cory Booker’s erudite remarks at the Only in America Gala on Julius Rosenwald’s legacy, American equality growth, and Langston Hughes’ timeless poem, Let America Be America.
Congressman John Lewis last week was honored with the National Book Award for his work March: Book Three. The congressman made reference to his time in a Rosenwald school as a youth and spoke about the nation today, and the future he sees and hopes for. Although Rosenwald may have died many years ago, those touched by his life are still being honored for their exceptional additions to society; and through extension thus honor Julius Rosenwald.
In 1951, John Dudley, Harold and Frances Suggs, and Eleanor Darden Stewart led a student organized walkout of their all-black Adkin High School in Kinston, NC to demand better conditions at the school. On Saturday, September 24 they were among the first members of the public to visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Back in 1951, they came up with a list of demands including a proper gym, a vocational shop, more classrooms and a home economics area, and took them to a board of education meeting in Kinston. Despite the school board’s initial declaration of a lack of resources within 18 months the students got everything they asked for.
Adkin High School was a “Rosenwald school” built in 1928 for African American students with the help of philanthropist Julius Rosenwald who helped build many such schools across the South in the early 1900s. You can read more about the walkout here.
Visitors to the National Museum of African American History will have the opportunity to view desks from the Rosenwald Hope School in Pomaria, South Carolina.