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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Civil rights activist, American icon, Julian Bond dies at 75

Civil rights activist Julian Bond died Saturday in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Reports indicate that Bond died from vascular disease.

Julian Bond.   Getty photo.

Bond was Chairman Emeritus of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).   

“From his days as a young activist to his years as both an elder statesman and NAACP Chairman Emeritus, Julian Bond inspired a generation of civil rights leaders", wrote current NAACP chairman Roslyn M. Brock in a statement Sunday. 

“From my days as a youth board member of the NAACP to my present tenure as NAACP Chairman, like so many of my generation and before, I am yet inspired by the depth and breadth of Chairman Emeritus Bond’s exemplary service: activist, writer, historian, professor, public intellectual, public servant and an unrelentingly eloquent voice for the voiceless. The grateful citizen heirs of the civil and human rights legacy of Julian Bond can neither be counted nor confined to a generation. 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.” 

[See Julian Bond, John Lewis, 1986 article.]

Among his many accolades Bond was also a Georgia state senator and nominee for U.S. Vice President.

"The arc of service of Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond's life extends high and wide over America's social justice landscape", said current NAACP president Cornell William Brooks.

Bond also co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee formed by a group of college students who helped orchestrate sit-ins in the south.  (Think today's Black Lives Matter movement.)

Bond was a fierce advocate for the rights of African Americans and also for the rights of gay and lesbians.

During our interview with him on the eve of the dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. Bond shared, among other items, that it was a gay, Bayard Rustin who orchestrated King's March on Washington in the 1960s.

He also shared that King would be "dismayed" at the treatment of gays of lesbians and that all are equal under the law.

Leader of the National Action Network, Reverend Al Sharpton called Bond “a trailblazer for equality and inclusion."

President Obama called Bond "a hero" and "a friend" saying both he and the first lady have benefited from his "example" and "counsel."

"Julian Bond helped change this country for the better", the president said. 

"And what better way to be remembered than that."

Bond was 75.  

He leaves behind his second wife, Pamela Horowitz and four grown children: daughter Phyllis Bond-McMillan, and sons Michael, Horace and Jeffery Bond.

For more, see full NAACP Bond bio.

Updated August 17, 2015.

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