Sunday, August 16, 2015
Julian Bond Is Gone, but his Struggle Continues
by Pa Rock
The sad news this morning of the death of the anti-war and civil rights activist Julian Bond got me to thinking about all of the great work that Mr. Bond helped to accomplish in his lifetime, and the harsh reality that there is still so much left to do.
I saw Mr. Bond in person back in the 1960's when he gave a lecture at my college - then known as Southwest Missouri State. It was at a time after his work with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and during the early years in which he was serving in the Georgia state legislature. Mr. Bond was a very young man, in his mid-to-late twenties, and a most inspiring speaker.
One of Julian Bond's many accomplishments was, along with Morris Dees, the founding of the venerable Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which Bond headed for eight years during the 1970's and continued to serve on its board of directors throughout the remainder of his life.
The SPLC has, as one of its many on-going functions, a practice of recognizing "hate groups" across the United States and making their presence known. The organization recognizes one hate group with a presence in my local community - that group being a neo-Confederate alliance that calls itself "The League of the South." The League appears to meet at one of the local senior centers on a monthly basis where they make presentations about the "Southern War for Independence." One of the meeting notices that I saw almost mentioned that the group sometimes offers "marksmanship lessons."
(I am on a real stream-of-consciousness thing here, so bear with me.)
After the deadly rampage by a young white man at at black church in Charleston, South Carolina, earlier in the summer and the subsequent movement to pull Confederate flags and statuary away from government buildings, the locals where I live have been in full retaliation mode. The Confederate flags are sprouting like weeds in a spring garden - and it has damned little to do with "heritage." These goobers hate President Obama with a vengeance that they are unable and unwilling to mask, and flying the flag of Dixie is just one more way of saying so.
Obama ain't a-gonna take their guns, and by God he ain't a-gonna take their flags either!
I drove into town one day last week for just a few minutes, and during that time I followed two pick-up trucks which were flying large (three feet by five feet) Confederate flags from special mounts in the bed of the trucks. One of our local chain motels also has a similarly-equipped truck that is parked behind their guest rooms every day - apparently the vehicle of someone who works there. And there is rarely a day that goes by that I do not see one of these Dukes-of-Hazard-wannabes go roaring down my normally peaceful country lane with smaller Confederate flags waving from their car windows.
We also have a contingent of angry individuals who have invested in flagpoles to display their prejudice and resentment toward our twice-popularly-elected President. One, a person whom I know personally, has the American and Confederate flags both flying from a flagpole in his front yard. He did show a bit of restraint in his white fervor by placing the American flag above the one of the traitors.
All of this is occurring while we have an out-of-the-area film crew (some from as far away as Los Angles) in town making a feature-length motion picture. Those folks came here wanting to see the real Ozarks. Well, they are getting to see us, with our pants down, in all our glory, proudly displaying our unwashed, redneck genitalia - warts and all!
Hey Hollywood, welcome to the Ozarks!
And as sad as the current local conditions of bigotry and stupidity are, the area would be much worse off than it is today if not for the efforts and love of Julian Bond and a whole generation of activists like him who began the long, hard slog of pulling us out of the dark ages.
God grant you the rest and peace you deserve, Mr. Bond. The world is a better place as a result of your lifetime of selfless toil and caring. We were graced by your presence.