Charles Bonner was born in Selma, Alabama. In 1963, at age 16, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), training, sitting in and peacefully marching for equal rights, and community organizing for the right to vote. He became a field director for SNCC’S Voter Registration Project in Wilcox County in 1965, conducting voter education and voter registration drives. He was one of hundreds who were beaten on Sunday, March 7, 1965 by Alabama State troopers, rushing the marchers on horseback, and on foot, wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas on the Edmund Pettis Bridge during the "Bloody Sunday" Selma to Montgomery March for the right to vote. Now a trial lawyer and author, Mr. Bonner is still fighting against discrimination, environmental injustice, violence and slavery in the world.
Forever changed by his early "direct-action" in the civil rights movement, Mr. Bonner has remained committed to environmental, civil, and human rights locally and globally, including working for the rights of farmworkers. Fleeing from Selma at age 19, he arrived in San Francisco with a couple of dollars in his pocket and the ambition to make a difference. In 1972 he earned a degree in Anthropology at Sonoma State University, finishing his last 12 units studying Kiswahili in a Tanzanian village and obtaining a Certificate of Fluency from the Government of Tanzania.
Mr. Bonner returned to the U.S. to further his education, first enrolling in Stanford in the Education Department, leaving to pursue his law degree from the New College School of Law in San Francisco, CA.
Charles Bonner has been practicing law as a Civil Rights and Environmental Attorney for more than 36 years and has been the lead attorney in over 100 jury trials, involving civil rights cases, police misconduct cases, employment discrimination and personal injury cases. Mr. Bonner is currently representing more than 300 U.S. Navy Sailors against the Tokyo Electric Power Company in a claim related to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power meltdown. The suit claims all of the Sailors – who were sent to provide humanitarian aid to Japan after a major earthquake and tsunami -- have experienced severe health problems relating to radiation exposure at the power plant during their rescue of victims.
He is in private practice with his son, A. Cabral Bonner, a Stanford Law School graduate. Together, they constitute the Law Offices of Bonner & Bonner in Sausalito, CA.
Mr. Bonner’s first novel was published in 2010. “The Bracelet” is a crime thriller loosely based on the harrowing story of one of his clients who escaped the dungeon of a sexual predator in upstate New York. Charles Bonner continues to work on behalf of victims of civil and human rights violations, and to end all forms of slavery.
Mr. Bonner is committed to Dr. King’s message of nonviolence, direct action to create qualitative social advancement.
The current civil rights issue that most concerns him is the shootings that are happening “on an almost daily basis – both those perpetrated by police and mass shootings carried out primarily by white Christian men, and the epidemic of shooting in our Black communities across America.”
“When cops are just shooting people in the street, there is no due process. The fourth Amendment Right is rapidly vanishing,” Bonner said, adding that the rights to privacy and protections against unreasonable search and seizure have also been severely eroded. “Those sworn to defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution must be held accountable when they violate that public oath and the public trust.”
Civil Rights Trial Lawyer, author of The Bracelet