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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: King Protégé Julian Bond Shares Private Side of His Mentor

The Associated Press

 There's a few things you probably didn't know about Martin Luther King: 

  • Had a great sense of humor, despite his somber demeanor
  • Loved playing basketball
  • Taught at Morehouse College in Atlanta - a one-time only philosophy class
  • His wife, Coretta, was a strong supporter of rights of gays and lesbians

This is among the interesting facts about King, the Civil Rights Movement and related topics that NAACP chairman emeritus Julian Bond, one of the only eight college students that King ever instructed, revealed in an interview with WMUK's Earlene McMichael in 2014. As the nation observes King's birthday this week, the station's WestSouthwest program today re-airs selected portions of the original interview done when Bond came to Michigan to be the MLK Jr. Day speaker at Albion College.

Credit Albion College
Julian Bond

Bond, who later went on to become a renowned social-justice activist in his own right after studying under King and to be named one of Time Magazine's top 100 American leaders, turned 75 last week. He tells McMichael that he still champions for the rights of blacks, but has added pushing for economic justice and environmental issues, namely for quality air and water, to his agenda. He also advocates for same-sex marriage. 

Regarding the latter, Bond notes that a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington was openly gay, and so he can't turn his back on helping advance the cause of LBGT individuals.

"They helped me to earn my civil rights and I can't turn around now and say 'listen thanks for helping me, but I'm not going to help you.' "

Bond closes the interview lamenting the lack of knowledge that younger people, and even some adults, have about the Civil Rights Movement. Bond says the history of civil rights is "American history," not "black history." He says it should be of interest to people of all races.

Bond was chairman of the NAACP from 1998 to 2010 and president emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is a former Georgia state senator and representative whose launch into politics had King's endorsement. Currently, Bond is a Professor in Residence at American University in Washington D.C.

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