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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Julian Bond, November 1 and 22, 1999. Interview R-0345. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A childhood incident developed Bond's racial identity

Bond discusses a childhood moment that awoke his burgeoning racial identity.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Julian Bond, November 1 and 22, 1999. Interview R-0345. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I was wondering. I remember with the class you said that we should ask our parents about when their moment of like racial consciousness was. I was wondering when that moment was for you?
JULIAN BOND:
I don't know if this is the first moment of racial consciousness, but I remember this moment. I can't remember how old I was, but probably four or five. I had been some place on the train with my mother, and we were walking through the Nashville train station. We were walking through the white section of the Nashville train station, and a man, a policeman, came up to my mother and said, "Niggers aren't allowed here." She said, "Are you calling me a nigger?" I don't know if it was because she was very fair skinned and might have been white, although she didn't appear white to me, or if it was her manner with the policeman. He was just taken aback. He didn't say anything else, and we just kept on going. That was the first memory I have of there being some category of people I belonged to. Before then, I thought I was just a boy. But after that, I knew that I belonged to this category, and there was something connected with it. So that's my first memory.