Former NAACP Chair Julian Bond passed away on Saturday at the age of 75.
Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a statement said that Bond, who was the organization’s first president, died at his home in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
“With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,” said Dees. “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.”
Bond in the early 1960s co-founded the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee while he was a student at Morehouse College. He chaired the NCAAP from 1998-2010.
The civil rights champion also emerged as a prominent supporter of LGBT rights.
Bond in 2011 publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples. He later recorded an ad in support of Maryland’s gay nuptials law that then-Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in 2012.
Voters later that year upheld the state’s same-sex marriage law in a referendum.
“Very few throughout human history have embodied the ideals of honor, dignity, courage and friendship like Julian Bond,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement after the Southern Poverty Law Center announced Bond’s death. “Quite simply, this nation and this world are far better because of his life and commitment to equality for all people. Future generations will look back on his life and legacy and see a warrior for good who helped conquer hate in the name of love. I will greatly miss my friend and my hero, Julian Bond.”
Saddened to hear Julian Bond passed away—his passion, courage & commitment to fighting for justice made an indelible mark on our world. -O’M
— Martin O’Malley (@MartinOMalley) August 16, 2015
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, also mourned Bond’s death.
“I am distressed to hear of the untimely death of Julian Bond, an inspiring lifelong champion of justice,” wrote Wolfson on his Facebook page. “It was an honor to work with him as he helped us move hearts and minds and win the freedom to marry.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a statement also acknowledged Bond’s support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“Julian Bond helped to move all Americans forward, creating a more welcoming nation for all people, regardless of their race, religion or whom they love,” said McAuliffe. “In countless Civil Rights marches, he was at the front, taking the lead in the pursuit of progress. When this country threatened to retreat into violence and hardened prejudice, he was the courageous voice calling us back to the principles of equality and respect for all men and women.”
Bond is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, their five children and two siblings.