Julian Bond, a former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a charismatic figure of the 1960s civil rights movement, a lightning rod of the anti-Vietnam War campaign and a lifelong champion of equal rights for minorities, died on Saturday night, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was 75.
Mr. Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., after a brief illness, the center said in a statement Sunday morning.
He was one of the original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) while he was a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
He moved from the militancy of the student group to the top leadership of the establishmentarian N.A.A.C.P. Along the way, he was a writer, poet, television commentator, lecturer, college teacher, and persistent opponent of the stubborn remnants of white supremacy.
He also served for 20 years in the Georgia Legislature, mostly in conspicuous isolation from white colleagues who saw him as an interloper and a rabble-rouser.
Mr. Bond’s wit, cool personality and youthful face became familiar to millions of television viewers during the 1960s and 1970s. He attracted adjectives — dashing, handsome, urbane — the way some people attract money.
On the strength of his personality and quick intellect, he moved to the center of the civil rights action in Atlanta, the unofficial capital of the movement, at the height of the struggle for racial equality in the early 1960s.
Moving beyond demonstrations, he became a founder, with Morris Dees, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization in Montgomery, Ala. Mr. Bond was its president from 1971 to 1979 and remained on its board for the rest of his life.
When he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965 — along with seven other black members — furious white members of the House refused to let him take his seat, accusing him of disloyalty. He was already well known because of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s stand against the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.
That touched off a national drama that ended in 1966, when the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision ordered the legislature to seat him, saying it had denied him freedom of speech.
He went on to serve 20 years in the two houses of the legislature. As a lawmaker, he sponsored bills to establish a sickle cell anemia testing program and to provide low-interest home loans to low-income Georgians. He also helped create a majority-black congressional district in Atlanta.
He left the State Senate in 1986 after six terms to run for that seat in the United States House. He lost a bitter contest to his old friend John Lewis, a fellow founder of S.N.C.C. and its longtime chairman. The two men, for all their earlier closeness in the rights movement, represented opposite poles of African-American life in the South: Mr. Lewis was the son of an sharecropper; Mr. Bond was the son of a college president.
In a statement Sunday, President Obama called Mr. Bond “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 N.A.A.C.P.,” Mr. Obama said. “Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.”
Horace Julian Bond was born Jan. 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tenn. His father, Horace Mann Bond, moved the family to Pennsylvania five years later, when he became the first African-American president of his alma mater, Lincoln University.
Julian Bond’s great-grandmother Jane Bond was the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer. Julian’s grandfather James Bond, one of Jane Bond’s sons, was educated at Berea and Oberlin Colleges and became a clergyman. His son Horace Mann Bond expected his own son Julian to follow in his footsteps as an educator, but the young man was attracted instead to journalism and political activism.
At Morehouse College, he plunged into extracurricular activities, but paid less attention to his studies. The civil rights movement provided a good excuse to drop out of college in 1961. He returned in the early 1970s to complete his English degree.
Dozens of his friends went to jail during his time with S.N.C.C. But he was arrested only once. In 1960, after word of student sit-ins at lunch counters in Greensboro, N.C., spread across the South, Mr. Bond and a few of his friends at Morehouse organized protests against segregated public facilities in Atlanta. He was arrested when he led a sit-in at the City Hall cafeteria.
Mr. Bond devoted most of the 1960s to the protest movement and activist politics, including campaigns to register black voters.
He prospered on the lecture circuit the rest of his life. He became a regular commentator in print and on television, including as host of “America’s Black Forum,” then the oldest black-owned show in television syndication.
In later years, he taught at Harvard, Williams, Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania.
He is survived by his second wife, Pamela Sue Horowitz, a retired lawyer, and five children, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Mr. Bond published a book of essays titled “A Time to Speak, A Time to Act.” He wrote poetry and articles for publications as varied as The Nation, Negro Digest and Playboy.
He was made chairman of the N.A.A.C.P., in 1998. He remained active in Democratic Party politics and was a strong critic of the administration of President George W. Bush. He said Mr. Bush had chosen some of his cabinet officers “from the Taliban wing of American politics.”
Most of Mr. Bond’s poetry reflected the pained point of view of a repressed minority. But his most famous was perhaps a two-line doggerel that he dashed off after one too many overly concerned white students offended him by saying, “If only they were all like you.”
Look at that girl shake that thing,
We can’t all be Martin Luther King.