Last weekend, 75-year-old civil rights leader Julian Bond passed away and was remembered in an outpouring of support from mourners across the world.
Julian Bond was instrumental in establishing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and will most be remembered as one of the driving forces behind the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In addition to his work as an influential presence in the fight for equal rights for African-Americans, he served multiple terms with the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate before later going on to become chairman of the NAACP from 1998-2010.
The NY Times ran an obituary for Julian Bond shortly after news of his passing began to circulate, but a particular line included in the obituary which referred to Bond’s grandmother as a “slave mistress” did not sit well with most who caught wind of the article.
Following much backlash on social media, NY Times public editor Margaret Sullivan included this explanation in a follow up article penned as an apology for using the terminology:
I brought the concerns to the attention of Times editors on Wednesday; they were already aware of the complaints. After meeting with editors to discuss it, the executive editor, Dean Baquet, responded. (Mr. Baquet, it’s worth noting here, made history last year when he was named the first African-American editor to lead The Times newsroom.) He said that The Times regretted using the expression: “It is an archaic phrase, and even though Julian Bond himself may have used it in the past, we should not have.”