NAACP Chairman Encourages Greater Efforts, Grander Victories
Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was the speaker for the ceremony on Wheeler Mall. Bond's appearance culminated Longwood's year-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. In his address, Greater Efforts, Grander Victories, he discussed race and the Brown v. Board decision. The title of his speech came from the commencement address that his grandfather, born a slave in Kentucky, gave when he graduated from Berea College in 1892. Bond quoted from his grandfather's address:
"The pessimist from his corner looks out on the world of wickedness and sin and blinded by all that is good or hopeful in the condition and progress of the human race, bewails the present state of affairs and predicts woeful things for the future.
In every cloud he beholds a destructive storm, in every flash of lightning an omen of evil, and in every shadow that falls across his path a lurking foe.
He forgets that the clouds also bring life and hope, that lightning purifies the atmosphere, that shadow and darkness prepare for sunshine and growth, and that hardships and adversity nerve the race, as the individual, for greater efforts and grander victories."
‘Greater efforts and grander victories,' said Bond, that was the promise the generation born in slavery made a century and a half ago. That was the promise made by the generation that won the great world war for democracy six decades ago. That was the promise made by those who brought democracy to America's darkest corners four decades ago.
And that is the promise you must seek to honor as you leave these ceremonies and enter the world beyond."
Challenging the graduates, Bond continued, "Wherever you may go from here – if there are hungry minds or hungry bodies nearby, you can feed them. If there are precincts of the powerless nearby, you can organize them. If there is racial or ethnic injustice, you can attack and destroy it ... We all hope that you will do well – but I hope you will also do good. Don't let the din or the dollar deafen you to the quiet desperation of the dispossessed. Don't let the glare of greed blind you to the many in need. You must place interest in principle above interest on principal ... Just as it is not enough to disparage evil, it is not enough just to do good."