NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The Rev. Al Sharpton on Sunday called civil rights activist Julian Bond "a trailblazer for equality and inclusion" and a "champion for human rights."
Bond, a longtime board chairman of the NAACP, died Saturday at the age of 75, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He passed away in Fort Walton Beach, Florida after a brief illness, the SPLC said in a statement released Sunday morning.
Sharpton released a statement Sunday on behalf of his National Action Network.
"National Action Network (NAN) mourns the loss of civil rights leader and former NAACP board chairman Julian Bond, a trailblazer for equality and inclusion," Sharpton said in the statement. "As one who came out of the immediate generation after him, I grew up admiring and studying the work of Julian Bond and the country has lost a champion for human rights. The work of Mr. Bond will be missed but not forgotten as we march forward for civil rights."
President Barack Obama also issued a statement on Bond.
"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," Obama said in the statement.
He added that Bond "helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that."
Bond, a Nashville, Tennessee 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.
Bond 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.
The SPLC said Bond was a ``visionary'' and ``tireless champion'' for civil and human rights.
``With Julian's passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,'' SPLC co-founder Morris Dees said in a statement. ``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 also served in the Georgia state legislature and was a professor at American University and the University of Virginia.
``Very few throughout human history have embodied the ideals of honor, dignity, courage and friendship like Dr. Julian Bond,'' said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. ``Quite simply, this nation and this world are far better because of his life and commitment to justice and equality for all people. Future generations will look back on the life and legacy of Julian Bond and see a warrior of good who helped conquer hate in the name of love. I will greatly miss my friend and my hero, Dr. Julian Bond.''
Bond is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, a former SPLC staff attorney; his five children, Phyllis Jane Bond-McMillan, Horace Mann Bond II, Michael Julian Bond, Jeffrey Alvin Bond, and Julia Louise Bond; his brother, James Bond; and his sister, Jane Bond Moore.
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