Former N.A.A.C.P. Chairman and Civil Rights Leader, Julian Bond Dies at 75

Former N.A.A.C.P. Chairman and Civil Rights Leader, Julian Bond Dies at 75

By VOICE Staff 

Photo credit: Eduardo Montes-Bradlely

Photo credit: Eduardo Montes-Bradley

Former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Chairman, Julian Bond is being remembered across the nation this week as the charismatic 1960s civil rights leader and equal rights activist. Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., after a brief illness. He was 75.

From his days as the co-founder and communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s to his chairmanship of the NAACP in the 21st century, Julian was a visionary and tireless champion for civil and human rights. He served as the SPLC’s president from our founding in 1971 to 1979, and later as a member of its board of directors.

A founding member of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Bond was remembered as a passionate advocate for the poor: With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. 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. 

Horace Julian Bond was born Jan. 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tenn. His father, Horace Mann Bond, was a prominent educator, serving as the first president of Fort Valley State University in Georgia and the first Black president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, his alma mater.

During his time with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Bond served as the communications director and protested against segregation of public facilities in Georgia and was arrested during a sit-in at Atlanta’s City Hall.

Later, as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War. When the White members of the House refused to seat him because of his opposition to the war, Bond took his case to the United States Supreme Court where he won a unanimous ruling in 1966, saying his freedom of speech had been violated and ordering the legislature to seat him. Bond served in the Georgia’s House of Representatives for a decade and went on to serve six terms in the Georgia state senate.

Bond ran for the United States House of Representatives, but lost a bitter race to John Lewis, a former colleague who had been chairman of SNCC.

Bond was elected as chairman of the board of the NAACP in 1998 and served for 11 years. He was not only a consistent agent for civil rights, he was also a writer, poet, author and professor at number of colleges and universities, including American University in Washington, D.C., the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University and the University of Virginia.

Bond also narrated “Eyes on the Prize,” a documentary on the Civil Rights Movement, that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988.

Julian is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, a former SPLC staff attorney, sons, Horace Mann Bond II, Jeffrey and Michael; daughters, Phyllis Jane Bond McMillan and Julia Louise Bond; sister, Jane; brother, James; and his eight grandchildren.

George Curry and NNPA contributed to this report. 

Remembering Bond: Friends and Colleagues Speak Out

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, and his children. Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.

– President Barack Obama

“National Action Network (NAN) mourns the loss of civil rights leader and former NAACP board chairman Julian Bond, a trailblazer for equality and inclusion. As one who came out of the immediate generation after him, I grew up admiring and studying the work of Julian Bond and the country has lost a champion for human rights. The work of Mr. Bond will be missed but not forgotten as we march forward for civil rights.”

– Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of the National Action Network

We at the Center for Responsible Lending were deeply saddened by the loss of Julian Bond, a great American, our friend, colleague and a member of the CRL Board of Directors. We all knew Julian as an iconic warrior in the trenches of the American civil rights movement. As a founding and longtime CRL board member, Julian also brought vision, leadership and passion to the battle for economic justice for millions of Americans, especially for those who have low incomes, are senior citizens and members of the armed services, or who live in communities of color. As early as 1967, during his time in the Georgia Senate, Julian made the inextricable connection between civil and human rights and economic justice. As the first black chair of the Fulton County Delegation and chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee, he sponsored more than 60 bills that became law. That commitment never waned during his tireless efforts to rid the nation of predatory lending practices and products so that everyone has a fair opportunity to achieve the American Dream. The nation will miss him, and so will we.

-Martin Eakes, CEO, Mike Calhoun, President

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