By Bereket Kidane,
Julian Bond, the former NAACP Chairman from 1998-2008, lifelong civil rights hero and friend of Eritrean-Americans, passed away at age 75 over the weekend.
Most Eritrean-Americans remember him for introducing President Issaias Afewerki at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on August 16, 1999, where President Issaias spoke on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border conflict and took questions from reporters. On that day, Sixteen years ago this week, Mr. Bond introduced President Issaias to the press and served as the facilitator of questions during the press conference.
Later on that year during the Fall, under Chairman Bond’s leadership, hundreds of Eritrean-Americans joined the rolls of NAACP as members and supporters of the oldest civil rights organization in the country.
At the turn of the century that year, Mr. Julian Bond along with President Issaias Afewerki, Nelson Mandela and other leaders from the world of entertainment, business, government, sports and media on both sides of the Atlantic was among the honorees as the “Greatest Men and Women of the Century” by the Remember Africa group.
In addition to being a civil rights icon, he was also a politician, writer, poet, television commentator and and university lecturer. Most recently, he was a distinguished scholar in residence at American University in Washington, DC.
Mr. Bond was also a friend and confidante of the late Congressman from New Jersey, Congressional Black Caucus leader and former ranking Chairman of Africa Subcommittee, Donald Payne, another great friend of Eritrean-Americans.
May he rest in peace.