Duluth NAACP Branch members and community members commemorated noted civil rights leaders Julian Bond and George Houser with a memorial ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 22 at the Canal Park North Pier. Bond and Houser died during the same week with their shared legacy of advocating for civil rights.
Bond, 75, co-founded the Student Nonviolence Coordination Committee (SNCC), served as a co-founder and first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and chaired the NAACP from 1998 to 2010. He also served 20 years in the Georgia Legislature. Bond was heavily involved in voting rights advocacy and increasing political representation for all members of U.S. society. Bond also gave a very inspiring MLK Day address earlier this year that was broadcast during the annual MLK Breakfast in Duluth.
People across the U.S. remembered Bond by gathering at bodies of water across the county to spread flower petals. This happened at the same time that Bond's cremains were committed to the Gulf of Mexico during a private family service.
Houser, 99, co-founded the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and co-led the Journey of Reconciliation that served as a model for the 1961 Freedom Riders. This Methodist minister was also a strong voice for the independence of African nations throught the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and served on the staff of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). Two memorial celebrations of George Houser’s life and legacy are currently being planned. The first is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19 in Santa Rosa, CA. An east coast memorial will be held later in the fall in the New York metropolitan area. Details are available at the FOR website: http://forusa.org/
Duluth Branch NAACP President Claudie Washington noted that the nation-wide remembrance will provide an opportunity to recommit to the voters right advocacy that was a significant part of Bond and Houser's work and legacy. Washington said much work remains to be done during this 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act to not only to secure those rights but to thwart efforts to erode them. Voting, Washington concluded, is a core democratic responsibility that we all must exercise to forge a more inclusive, just, and equitable society.
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