Julian Bond, Civil Rights Leader and Former NAACP Chairman, Dies at 75

Civil rights activist Julian Bond, former chairman for the NAACP and an activist for more than 50 years, has died at the age of 75. Bond’s family reports that the politician, who spent four terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and six terms in the Georgia Senate, passed away after a brief illness.

The New York Times writes: “Mr. Bond’s wit, cool personality and youthful face became familiar to millions of television viewers during the 1960s and 1970s. He attracted adjectives — dashing, handsome, urbane.” The outlet also speaks of his time teaching at Harvard, Williams, Drexel, and the University of Pennsylvania. The Times continues: “He prospered on the lecture circuit the rest of his life. He became a regular commentator in print and on television, including as host of America’s Black Forum, then the oldest black-owned show in television syndication.”

Bond was a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a social force in the South during the 1960s (featured in the 2014 film Selma). During his time at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he attended classes with Martin Luther King, Jr., Bond was involved in the sit-ins of the ‘60s that brought the civil rights movement to the forefront, even leading Atlanta’s first sit-in as reported in this 1960 article.

President Obama called Bond “a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend” in a statement released today. Bond’s book A Time to Speak, A Time to Act is a collection of essays featuring his poetry and the many articles he wrote for publications, including Playboy and The Nation, the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States.

(Photo: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. “Georgia State Senator Julian Bond speaking at Miami-Dade Community College south campus during Black History Month – Kendall, Florida.”)