Civil rights leader and former chairman of the NAACP, Julian Bond, died on Saturday night (Aug. 15) in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., the Southern Poverty Law Center released in a statement. He was 75 years old and succumbed to brief bout with an illness from vascular disease, according to his wife, The New York Times reports.
Bond was an integral proponent of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, having launched the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which played a notable role in the protests of the period, as well as the 1963 March On Washington. He served as the committee’s communications director, and was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965 and the Georgia Senate in 1975. He also the co-founder and president of the SPLC before in the 1970s before being elected the chairman of the NAACP in 1998.
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President Obama released a statement following the announcement of Bond’s death. “Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life,” he said. “Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.” One organization involved in today’s new wave of civil right activism, The Dream Defenders, also memorialized Bond, vowing to continue his work:
Rest in Peace brother Julian Bond. You contributed so much to our liberation. We will continue in your honor. pic.twitter.com/GEbR2L2VfU
— The Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) August 16, 2015
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Current NAACP chairman Roslyn M. Brock released a statement regarding Bond’s death, noting his influence on her activism and that of many generations.
“The grateful citizen heirs of the civil and human rights legacy of Julian Bond can neither be counted nor confined to a generation,” the statement reads. “Many of the most characteristically American freedoms enjoyed by so many Americans today were made real because of the lifelong sacrifice and service of Julian Bond. On behalf of the NAACP and our country, we ask for your prayers for his family.”
Bond leaves behind his wife, Pamela Horowitz, a former SPLC staff attorney, five children, one brother, and one sister.