President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and respected civil rights leader Julian Bond says the 1955 death of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered for reportedly whistling at a white woman, was a “terrifying” event that served as a catalyst for his later activism. He said he was “encouraged to put that fear behind him” and channeled his efforts into sit-ins, Freedom Rides and other civil rights work.
Connecting the beginnings of his career to present-day achievements of the civil rights movement, Bond also cited the election of Barack Obama to the presidency as a triumph of 100 years of activism on the part of the NAACP. “It is impossible to understand the importance” of President Obama’s election, whose “victory was not only broad but deep,” Bond said. “Barack Obama is the embodiment of King’s vision.”
Bond was speaking to an audience at McAlester College in St. Paul, Minn.