UPDATE 12:15 p.m. EDT: President Obama issued a statement calling Bond a hero.
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."
The death of Julian Bond, an influential leader of the U.S. civil-rights movement who later served as the chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was followed by a wave of tributes across social media. After a brief illness, Bond died Saturday night at the age of 75 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Bond helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), one of the most important grassroots organizations associated with the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. Besides serving in the Georgia House of Representatives and its Senate for two decades, he was subsequently active as an author, lecturer and professor. He was honored with the National Freedom Award in 2002, and he continued to advocate for marginalized Americans until his death.
“With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded by Bond in the 1970s, said in a statement announcing his death. “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 ... Not only has the country lost a hero today, we’ve lost a great friend.”
Americans ranging from a former U.S. attorney general to protest leaders who are continuing Bond’s tradition, voiced their appreciation for him on Twitter, making “Julian Bond” the top trending term on the microblogging site Sunday morning:
Julian Bond - activist, icon. A great man who made the gains of the next generation possible and the nation better. We owe him much.
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) August 16, 2015
The NAACP mourns the passing of Chairman Julian Bond, civil rights titan and our brother. May he rest in eternal peace.
— NAACP (@NAACP) August 16, 2015
I will miss Julian Bond: A Great Man, and my Black Friend: http://t.co/8NPPYYsdpL
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) August 16, 2015
Sad to hear that Julian Bond (civil rights activist/NAACP board chairman) has passed away. Condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/1ORiclI6p0
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) August 16, 2015
Julian Bond was a combination of being both without ego and generous with his incredible lived history. That is so damn rare. Rest in Power.
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) August 16, 2015
— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) August 16, 2015
Rest In Peace, Julian Bond.
— deray mckesson (@deray) August 16, 2015
Rest in peace, Julian Bond. pic.twitter.com/AYPyJAvTcg
— EBONY MAGAZINE (@EBONYMag) August 16, 2015