Longtime civil rights activist Bond dead at 75

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FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — Julian Bond, a civil rights activist and longtime board chairman of the NAACP, has died. He was 75.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says in a statement that Bond died Saturday night in Fort Walton Beach, Florida after a brief illness.

The Nashville, Tenn. native was considered a symbol and icon of the 1960s civil rights movement.

As a Morehouse College student, Bond helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and as its communications director, he was on the front lines of protests that led to the nation’s landmark civil rights laws.

He later served as board chairman of the 500,000-member NAACP for 10 years but declined to run again for another one-year term in 2010.

Bond also served in the Georgia state legislature and was a professor at American University and the University of Virginia.

President Barack Obama says Bond was a hero and friend, saying he and first lady Michelle Obama have benefited from Bond’s example, counsel and friendship. He added that Bond helped change America for the better and “what better way to be remembered than that.”

Obama telephoned his condolences to Bond’s widow, Pamela, following Bond’s death.