Julian Bond Flirted With Presidential Run in 1976

Julian Bond in 1968
History.com screenshot
Julian Bond in 1968
History.com screenshot

Julian Bond is dead.

His death is being widely reported today by media organizations. But here's an important event in his life that those stories won't tell you about the former communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council and board chairman of the NAACP:

Julian Bond's death comes 39 years after he flirted with the idea of being the 1976 presidential candidate of the National Black Political Assembly, an all-black political party organized by U.S. Rep. Charles Diggs of Detroit; Gary, Ind., Mayor Richard Hatcher; and poet-activist Imamu (later Amiri) Baraka.


In January 1976, the group's executive council passed a resolution naming Bond the assembly's presidential candidate.

But shortly before the NBPA convened its third national convention in Cincinnati in March 1976 (the previous conventions were held in March 1972 in Gary and in March 1974 in Little Rock, Ark.), Bond said he would not accept the nomination. In turning down the nomination, Bond said it had come too late in the 1976 presidential season.

Ironically, key elements of the NBPA's platform are strikingly similar to the political agenda of the nation's first black president, Barack Obama. Among other things, the assembly's platform called for national health insurance and a livable minimum wage.

A few days before the NBPA opened its 1976 convention, then-Chicago Tribune columnist Vernon Jarrett quoted Bond as saying that he supported the presidential bid of Democratic Sen. Morris Udall of Arizona: "I am with Morris Udall because he comes the closest to representing what I believe this country, our government, should be about." Jarrett also hinted that Bond might be a "dark horse" candidate for vice president on the ticket of a Democratic Party candidate.

In May 1976, a gathering of black Democratic Party insiders, called the Caucus of Black Democrats, was held in Charlotte, N.C. Nearly 2,000 people, whom Jet magazine described as "serious Black Democrats," attended.

In an obvious slap at the NBPA, Basil Paterson, a black New York political activist and vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said, "The Charlotte meeting represents the most mature and authentic statement of black political development to date."


As it turned out, former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter won the Democratic Party's 1976 presidential nomination and the presidency; Walter Mondale was his running mate. And the National Black Political Assembly disappeared from America's political landscape.

DeWayne Wickham is a syndicated columnist, as well as a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. He is also dean of the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University.