Updated: February 20, 2014 6:09AM
Civil rights leader Julian Bond will headline Aurora’s 2014 Martin Luther King Day Celebration sponsored by Aurora’s MLK Planning Committee and the city of Aurora.
Author, professor, and devoted student of Martin Luther King Jr., Bond will speak about his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement at 6:30 p.m. Monday at West Aurora High School, 1201 W. New York St.
The annual celebration will feature the West Aurora High School Jazz Band, the East Aurora High School NJROTC, Waubonsie Valley High School’s Mosaic Choir, the Illinois Math and Science Academy’s Black African-American Student Association, the Aurora Inter Faith ecumenical group of faith leaders, and the Sign Singers of St. John AME Church.
Residents who performed community service during the 2014 Day of Service will be recognized and students recommended by their schools to receive “Service above Self” Awards will be honored for their commitment to service in the community.
On the evening prior, the Voices for Excellence Choir will host its annual MLK Service at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at Main Baptist Church, 814 E. Galena Blvd.
Both events are free and open to the public.
“Aurora is proud to have our own civil rights icons like the late Marie Wilkinson, and we are certainly honored to have yet another legendary figure of the Civil Rights Movement visit our city,” said Mayor Tom Weisner about Bond. Weisner has assisted in bringing other civil rights luminaries to Aurora such as Rosa Parks, Mamie Till Mobley and Dick Gregory.
“Dr. Julian Bond’s visit will provide an opportunity for Aurorans of all ages to get an up close and personal view of Dr. King and this pivotal time in our nation’s history,” said Weisner.
Bond helped to establish the influential Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960 while he was a student at Morehouse College, King’s alma mater.
Mentored by King personally, Bond was a key figure in the youth movement and served as the committee’s national communications director during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, Aurora officials said.
At just 25 years old, Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, where he served for 10 years. In 1968, Bond led a challenge delegation from Georgia to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and was the first African-American nominated as vice president of the United States. He withdrew his name from the ballot because he was too young to serve.
In 1975, he was elected to the Georgia Senate where served until 1986.
In the 1980s and ‘90s, Bond taught at several universities, including American, Drexel, Williams, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard universities and the University of Virginia. He also served as a commentator for NBC’s “Today Show” and authored the nationally-syndicated newspaper column Viewpoint.
In 1998, Bond was elected as the chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
After serving 11 years as chairman, today Bond is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and a professor in the history department at the University of Virginia.