Julian Bond, former NAACP chairman and activist, dies at 75

Julian Bond, chairman of the board for the NAACP, talks about the organization in 2006 at The University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. Bond, a civil-rights activist, died Saturday. He was 75. (Mary Ann Chastain ~ Associated Press)

ATLANTA -- Julian Bond's life traced the arc of the civil-rights movement, from his efforts as a militant young man to start a student protest group, through a long career in politics and his leadership of the NAACP almost four decades later.

Year after year, the calm, telegenic Bond was one of the nation's most poetic voices for equality, inspiring fellow activists with his words in the 1960s and sharing the movement's vision with succeeding generations as a speaker and academic. He died Saturday at 75.

Former Ambassador Andrew Young said Bond's legacy would be as a "lifetime struggler."

"He started when he was about 17, and he went to 75," Young said. "And I don't know a single time when he was not involved in some phase of the civil-rights movement."

Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, after a brief illness, according to a statement issued Sunday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group he founded in 1971 and helped oversee for the rest of his life.

The son of a college president burst into the national consciousness after helping to start the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, where he rubbed shoulders with committee leaders Stokely Carmichael and John Lewis. As the committee grew into one of the movement's most important groups, the young Bond dropped out of Morehouse College in Atlanta to serve as communications director. He later returned and completed his degree in 1971.

Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but fellow lawmakers, many of them white, refused to let him take his seat because of his anti-war stance on Vietnam.

The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor.

Bond took office in 1967.

"If this was another movement, they would call him the PR man, because he was the one who wrote the best, who framed the issues the best. He was called upon time and again to write it, to express it," said Eleanor Holmes Norton, who was Bond's colleague on the student committee and later wrote a friend-of-the-court brief for the American Civil Liberties Union when Bond's case was before the high court.

Horace Julian Bond was born Jan. 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee. He is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, a former staff attorney for the law center, and five children.

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