Dr. James Bond (1863-1929)

Historical Marker #1663 in Louisville notes the achievements of African American educator and leader James Bond.

Bond was born into slavery in 1863 on the Anderson County farm of Preston Bond. Preston Bond is listed in the 1860 census as a thirty-five year old farmer who had $2,700 in real estate and $3,490 in personal property. Bond owned four slaves, three males and an eighteen year old woman. The slave woman was likely James Bond’s mother, Jane. Family tradition claims that Preston Bond fathered Jane's two sons. After the Civil War, Jane moved to Knox County, Kentucky, with sons James and Henry. Jane Bond appears in the 1880 census as a forty year old "mulatto" servant living in the household of her sister, Mary Ervin, and brother-in-law, James Ervin. Also listed in the house are the boys, James, age sixteen, and Henry, fifteen. Both are identified as farm laborers, and both were apparently literate.

At about the time of the 1880 census, James Bond left for school at Berea College. To pay his tuition he drove a steer the sixty-mile distance. James required a significant amount of remedial work to catch up with the other students, but his persistence paid off when he graduated from Berea in 1892. He continued his education by perusing a divinity degree from Oberlin College, where he graduated in 1895. Bond served as a minister in Tennessee for a time and then took a job with the Lincoln Institute in Shelby County, Kentucky, as a fundraiser.

Bond tried to join the military during World War I as a chaplain, but he was rejected due to his age. He did, however, work with soldiers through the YMCA at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville during that conflict. He later served as the first Kentucky Director of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. In this role, Bond worked to open lines of communication between the races and worked to provide mutually satisfying solutions to issues.

Bond died in 1929 at age sixty-five. His influence provided an example for his descendants. His son, Horace Mann Bond, a college professor at Fisk University and late Fort Valley State, and grandson Julian Bond, a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), leader in Civil Rights Movement, and politician, both owed a great deal of their success to Dr. James Bond.