Julian Bond passes away at 75

Civil rights leader Julian Bond passed away on August 15 at the age of 75 in Florida.

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Julian Bond was born Horace Julian Bond on January 14, 1940 in Nashville, TN. After moving to Pennsylvania his father became the first African American president of Lincoln University. He attended Morehouse College where he would later receive his degree in English.

Julian Bond was one of the founders of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) during the 1960’s.

A onetime student of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Mr. Bond became active in the civil rights movement in his teens. He was a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the early 1960s and was on the front lines of civil rights battles in the South. His name was briefly placed in nomination for the vice presidency at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, when he was too young to assume the office.

For a time in the 1960s and 1970s, there was open talk that Mr. Bond could well be the nation’s first black president.

President Obama hailed Mr. Bond as a “hero” and as a friend to the first family.

“Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life,” the president said in a statement. “Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.”

Other statements of sympathy were issued by former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, former vice president Al Gore, civil rights activist and television figure Al Sharpton, actress Kerry Washington and Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder Morris Dees, among others.

In 1960, Mr. Bond was one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which he described as the “shock troops” who helped spread the fervor of the civil rights movement. As the communications director, he worked alongside the organization’s chairman, now-Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who would become a friend and later a political rival.

At the age of 25 Julian Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives.

Mr. Bond first gained national acclaim in 1965, when he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives at 25. Alone among the 11 African Americans elected to the Georgia legislature soon after the passage of far-reaching new civil rights laws, Mr. Bond was denied a seat in the chamber.

On three occasions, the white leaders of the Georgia legislature sought to prevent Mr. Bond from taking his seat, citing his opposition to the military draft and the war in Vietnam. The legislature claimed it had the right to determine the qualifications of its members.

Mr. Bond filed suit, saying, “If they bar me again, I’ll sue them again.”

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1966 that Mr. Bond was being denied freedom of speech and that he should be immediately seated in the legislature.

For the next 20 years, while serving in the Georgia legislature, Mr. Bond spoke out nationally on issues of race, poverty and equality. He gave as many as 200 speeches a year, often on college campuses, and was seen as a likely national leader of the civil rights movement after King’s assassination in 1968.

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Julian Bond served as president of the Southern Poverty Law Center during the 1970’s, was a board chairman of the NAACP and was the narrator of the 14 part PBS documentary series Eyes On The Prize.

Julian Bond is survived by his wife Pamela Horowitz, his five children from his first marriage, a sister, a brother and eight grandchildren.  A private ceremony will be held this weekend in Florida were his ashes will be scattered at sea.

Rest in Power Julian Bond.

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