Thursday, February 26, 2004

Bond laments lack of equality

By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

HAMILTON - While praising the civil rights movement, the national chairman of the NAACP believes racial equality still does not exist in America.

In his speech, "Civil Rights: Now and Then," activist and college professor Julian Bond addressed a crowd of more than 300 people Wednesday in Miami University Hamilton's Parrish Auditorium.

With the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that struck down segregation in schools and the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, he said the nation has "a chance to examine our present and our past."

"Laws now require the doors on the schoolhouse to swing open for everyone, no longer are they arbitrarily closed to those whose skins are black," Bond said. "But despite dramatic increases in the number of black people holding public office ... non-white Americans face problems more difficult to attack now than in all the years that went before."

Saying that the Bush administration uses Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as "human shields" to block criticism of President Bush's challenges to civil rights, Bond called for protection of affirmative action in both the workplace and in education.

He promised that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would continue fighting racism through litigation and protecting voter rights.

"It has only been a short 39 years that all black Americans have been allowed to exercise all their rights as citizens," Bond said. "Now, some are telling us those 39 years have been enough. To believe that is the victory of hope over experience. To believe that is the victory of self-delusion over common sense."


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