Agitation, among other things, is what Mr. Julian Bond stood for.
I assume the assertive tactics taken by two Philadelphia activists last Monday when protesting an insubordinate District Attorney weren’t praised by everyone in the City, let alone in the black community, and more specifically, among the black political elite.
There was nothing pleasant, patient or calm about the manner in which Mr. Asa Khalif and Ms. Erica Mines expressed themselves when occupying the ground floor of a Center City Philadelphia office building. It was loud, profanity-laced and, above all, agitating to those who at 7:45am were dragging their bodies into work.
The agitation, though, is what Mr. Julian Bond, a civil rights leader and politician who died Friday at the age 75, stood for, among other things.
The gray-haired debonair lecturer with the thin glasses who departed from Earth last week was, in the 1960’s, a well-manicured college student who got his start in the civil rights movement by performing sit-ins. Mr. Bond once said:
“Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who agitate.”
Like with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there’s been an effort – whether it’s intentional or subconscious is of no consequence – to de-radicalize the Black community’s most prominent individuals and to portray them as scholarly, polished pontificators who talked more than resisted.
Mr. Bond was a radical individual with resolve and grace, but also equally possessed rigor and a grandiosity that stayed with him until death.
According to page 19 of a comic authored by Mr. Bond after he was expelled from the Georgia House of Representatives for opposing the war in Vietnam, Mr. Bond believed that voting made you a part of the government, not a subservient to lawmakers and politicos.
It was that exact idea, and in that spirit, that guided Mr. Khalif and Ms. Mines to ignore several commands from a law enforcement officer to remove themselves from a “secure area.” Ms. Mines asserted that where they stood wasn’t a secure area, because it was, in fact, public property paid for by her and the other million or so taxpayers in Philadelphia.
One has to believe scenes like this played out 50 or 60 years ago, too, and many of them, I’m sure, involved Mr. Bond. And even more than that, if it wasn’t for the agitators like Mr. Bond and Dr. King, there’d be no “first African-American District Attorney of Philadelphia” to protest against.
It’s historically inaccurate and woefully deceptive to articulate voting as the only form of obtaining justice when it was clearly agitation that resulted in the right to vote.
In fact, before the vote, agitating and resistance was our first line of defense. And given both the state of American politics and the passing of Mr. Bond, it seems appropriate to fully re-engage the spirit of agitation to, in a sense, reclaim the dream.
But what isn’t appropriate at this time is remembering Mr. Bond as just a groomed television commentator while turning your nose up at youthful agitators like Mr. Khalif, Ms. Mines, Ms. Tia Oso, Ms. Opal Tometi, Mr. Phillip Agnew and the many who proclaim in the streets that #BlackLivesMatter.
Without a doubt, it’s because of agitation and resistance by Mr. Bond and his comrades at the time that many of the liberties we enjoy today are possible. And following that same logic, the liberties the future will enjoy will be a result of today’s and tomorrow’s protest, agitation, shaming editorials and resistance by young people.
To stand in opposition of the aforementioned argument is to not only deny history and its repetitive nature, but it de-memorializes and de-legitimizes the energy – which can’t be neither created nor destroyed, but only transferred – that powered Mr. Bond, Dr. King and the many activists on whose shoulders we stand today and demand justice.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™