Julian Bond, civil rights activist and former chairman of the NAACP, has died at age 75, the Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed in a statement Sunday.
He passed away Saturday night (Aug. 15) in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, following a brief illness.
"With Julian's passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice," SPLC's co-founder Morris Dees wrote. "He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all."
"Julian Bond helped change this country for the better, President Barack Obama added via a statement from the White House. "Julian Bond was a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend. Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life –– from his leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to his founding role with the Southern Poverty Law Center, to his pioneering service in the Georgia legislature and his steady hand at the helm of the NAACP.
"Michelle and I have benefited from his example, his counsel, and his friendship –– and we offer our prayers and sympathies to his wife, Pamela [Horowitz], and his children."
The Nashville, Tennessee native was considered a symbol and icon of the civil rights movement. He began his life's work at Morehouse College in the 1960s, where he helped found the SNCC and served as its communications director.
He went on to become chairman of the board of the NAACP for 10 years, declining to run again in 2010. He also served in the Georgia House of Representatives and was a professor at American University and the University of Virginia.
Bond is survived by his wife, a former SPLC staff attorney; his five children; a brother and a sister.
Watch Julian Bond discuss his role during the march in 1963 in the BET.com video below.
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