I was sad to read that J. Max Bond Jr. died on Wednesday. Mr. Bond had an illustrious career as an architect and educator, in spite of being told by one of his Harvard professors that he should forget about it because he was African-American. At the time of his death, Bond was working on the National September 11 Museum at the WTC. One of his many projects was the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Social Change here in Atlanta. I did not realize that he was related to Julian Bond until I read his obituary on Thursday (in 2004, Julian Bond was inducted into the Civil Rights Walk of Fame, part of the same property as the MLK Center). To learn more about J. Max Bond Jr., his remarkable career and family, there is a concise but informative summary with links here, and you can read the obituary in full over at NYTimes.com. I have to share the last two paragraphs, which really got to me:
Despite these insider’s credentials, Mr. Bond never lost an outsider’s perspective, applying it critically in 2003 to early plans that called for public spaces high up in the new skyscrapers at the World Trade Center site.
“It’s always been difficult for young blacks, for young Hispanics, for anyone who looks aberrant to get access to the upper realms of Wall Street towers,” Mr. Bond said. “For a city of immigrants, the public realm is more than ever now the street.”
photo swiped from University of Michigan Visiting Faculty page