Julian Bond, who rose from a civil rights activist as a college student to chairman of the NAACP , visited Morgantown Thursday (Jan. 15) to help West Virginia University celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and discussThe Road to Freedom: From Alabama to Obama.”

He was the keynote speaker at WVU s 23rd annual Martin Luther King Commemoration Program at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. The service was organized by WVU s Center for Black Culture and Research.

Bonds appearance in Morgantown came five days before the inauguration in Washington, D.C., of Barack Obama as Americas first black president.

Julian Bond has been such a presence in our lives and such a champion for equality and dignity,said Marjorie Fuller, director of WVU s Center for Black Culture and Research.Think about what Barack Obama must mean to people of his generation.

Bond spoke about the simple acts such as sitting at a restricted lunch counter, attending a school or casting a ballot can be powerful enough to challenge the way people think and act.

Those moments also became lasting symbols in the struggle for civil rights, which Bond advocated early on. In 1960 as a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and organized voting drives and sit-ins across rural Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but his fellow House members voted not to seat him because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. A year later, the U.S. Supreme Court voted unanimously to overturn the House so he could be admitted.

He would go on to serve four terms in the House and six terms in the state Senate.

As a lawmaker, Bond sponsored or co-sponsored more than 60 bills which became law, including legislation for a pioneer sickle cell anemia testing program and another that provided home loans to low-income Georgians.

Hes chaired the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since 1998 and is also president emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bond has been a host and commentator for the syndicated talk showAmericas Black Forumand a commentator onThe Today Show.

He penned a nationally syndicated newspaper column and narrated the award-winning documentariesA Time for JusticeandEyes on the Prize.He also wrote and narratedCrossing the Color Line: from Rhythm and Blues to Rock �€~nRoll,a four-part documentary for National Public Radio.

He holds honorary degrees from 23 schools and sits on the boards of outreach organizations from the American South to South Africa.

Unity BreakfastJan. 19

Monday, Jan. 19, is Martin Luther King Day, and WVU is honoring the slain civil rights leader with its annual Unity Breakfast at 8 a.m. in the Mountainlair ballrooms on the Downtown Campus.

This years breakfast features keynote remarks by Dana Brooks, dean of the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences. The MLK Achievement Award and MLK Scholarship will be presented that morning.

Inaugural BallJan. 20

On Tuesday, Jan. 20, WVU s Center for Black Culture and Research is hosting an Inaugural Ball honoring the presidency of Barack Obama.

The ball will be from 7-10 p.m. at the Erickson Alumni Center. Admission is free for the formal event. The RSVP deadline was Jan. 12.