Julian Bond’s life traced the arc of the civil rights movement, from his efforts as a militant young man to start a student protest group, through a long career in politics and his leadership of the NAACP almost four decades later.
Year after year, the calm Mr. Bond was one of the nation’s most poetic voices for equality, inspiring fellow activists with his words in the 1960s and sharing the movement’s vision with succeeding generations as a speaker and academic. He died Saturday at 75.
Former Ambassador Andrew Young said his legacy would be as a “lifetime struggler.”
“He started when he was about 17 and he went to 75,” Young said. “And I don’t know a single time when he was not involved in some phase of the civil rights movement.”
Mr. Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, after a brief illness, according to a statement issued Sunday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that he founded in 1971 and helped oversee for the rest of his life.
The son of a college president burst into the national consciousness after helping to start the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, where he rubbed shoulders with committee leaders Stokely Carmichael and John Lewis. As the committee grew into one of the movement’s most important groups, the young Mr. Bond dropped out of Morehouse College in Atlanta to serve as communications director. He returned to get his degree in 1971.
Mr. Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965 but fellow lawmakers, many of them white, refused to let him take his seat because of his anti-war stance on Vietnam. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor. He finally took office in 1967.
In 1968, he led a delegation to the Democratic National Convention, where his name was placed in nomination for the vice presidency, but he declined because he was too young.
He served in the Georgia House until 1975 and then served six terms in the Georgia Senate until 1986. He also served as president of the law center from its founding until 1979 and was later on its board of directors.
Mr. Bond was elected board chairman of the NAACP in 1998 and served for 10 years.
He was often at the forefront of protests against segregation. In 1960, he helped organize a sit-in involving Atlanta college students at the city hall cafeteria.
Mr. Bond was “a thinker as well as a doer. He was a writer as well as a young philosopher,” said Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a journalist who struck up a friendship with him in the early 1960s, when she was one of the first two black students to attend the University of Georgia.
He is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, and five children.