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Julian Bond (left) with President Barack Obama             Credit: Jesse Grant / Getty

We’re waking up in a world without one of the nation’s beloved civil rights leaders. Former NAACP head Julian Bond died Saturday night. The Southern Poverty Law Center announced Bond died in Florida, calling its former chairman a “visionary and tireless champion” for civil and human rights. He was the first to lead the SPLC.

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Julian Bond                           Credit: Albert L. Ortega / Getty

President Barack Obama is remembering Bond as a hero and a friend. In a statement released by the White House, the president said:

“Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life…Julian Bond helped change this country for the better.”

(See Obama’s full statement linked in a Tweet Below.)

Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, also called Bond one of his closest friends and talked about their close personal and working relationship in the movement over the years in a series of tweets. (See link below.)

Bond was a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as a young man. He held elected office in the state of Georgia, as a member of the state’s House of Representatives and later becoming arguably one of the most popular state senators in the nation. Bond later lost a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th District to Lewis in what became a bitter battle. (See Lewis address this in a Tweet below.)

The NAACP also released a statement on the death of their former chairman. In part, the CEO of the nation’s oldest surviving civil rights organization, Cornell William Brooks said:

“The arc of service of Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond’s life extends high and wide over America’s social justice landscape: as a young lieutenant of Martin Luther King Jr., gifted writer, eloquent speaker, esteemed professor, Georgia state senator, nominee for U.S. Vice President, revered civil rights leader, champion for marriage equality and well beloved NAACP Chairman Emeritus. We extend our heartfelt sympathies and soul deep prayers to his family. This is a moment of incalculable loss in a trying hour of innumerable civil right challenges. The life and legacy, indeed the eloquence of Julian Bond’s example, yet speak to the present and future of the NAACP.”

(See their full statement linked in a Tweet below.)

Bond died after a brief illness at the age of 75. He is survived by second wife, Pamela Horowitz–a former SPLC staff attorney, his five children by first wife Alice Clopton Bond, a brother, a sister and a host of other relatives.

Bond is one of many civil rights leaders who helped paved the way for blacks and others in our nation to advance. More coverage of Bond’s death is in his long-time local paper, HERE.

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