A TIME TO SPEAK, A TIME TO ACT: The Movement in Politics by Julian Bond

A TIME TO SPEAK, A TIME TO ACT: The Movement in Politics

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An exhortation to political involvement within the decrepit electoral system by the Georgia state legislator and former SNCC activist who stole the show in the '68 Democratic Convention by becoming the first black man to receive Vice Presidential mention. Bond writes the balanced, sagacious prose of the would-be junior statesman casting about for a national constituency. A reformist who senses the limits of reformism, Bond sees the Nixon Administration (""the bland leading the bland"") endeavoring to strangle the ""second Reconstruction"" of the 1960's. What he is looking for is an ""escape from the circle of politics that always escalates to protest, culminates in rebellion, and results in repression."" The diagnosis is astute enough but the solutions suggested are partial, problematic and equivocal. He plumps strongly for community control -- including black-run rackets, prostitution and numbers if they must exist in the ghettos -- and heralds the need for a nationwide organization ""Negroes and Practical Politics, Inc."" (NAPPI) to channel information, political expertise and funds to prospective black candidates. At present there are some 1800 black officials in the U.S. and Bond wants to double and triple their numbers but he shies away from any discussion of how unity is to be achieved among the highly fragmented leadership and black power ideologues from LeRoi Jones to Carl Stokes. Once or twice he raises the specter of violence and black guerrilla warfare in the cities but without any real conviction -- it may be morally justified, but it won't work. Despite the firm recognition that ""representative democracy has yet to work for us"" Bond can endorse no other way: ""I find it increasingly satisfying. It is a pleasure to be a politician."" In the end this is no more than a temperate and somewhat forlorn plea to ""the young people"" to return to the electoral mire at the grassroots level and combat the mounting apathy that threatens to envelop the '70's -- following the example of Julian Bond.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1972
Publisher: Simon & Schuster