Julian Bond, a former chairman of the NAACP and a prominent fighter for social justice since the 1960s Civil Rights movement, died at the age of 75 last Saturday in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Bond fell ill from complications related to vascular disease. His wife Pamela Horowitz said that he remained optimistic during his final days.
Inspired by his father who served as the first African-American president of Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University, Bond dedicated his life to vanquishing discrimination against the oppressed. President Obama expressed his condolences and sincere admiration for Bond’s commitment to justice and equality, “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.”
Bond was also an outspoken champion of the rights of gays and lesbians, publicly supporting same-sex marriage. “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married,” said Bond on the Martin Luther King Day Celebration at Clayton State University in 2007 in Morrow, Georgia. Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign – an LGBT advocacy group – referred to Bond as a “warrior for good.”
Bond made several appearances in media: he was the first black political figure to host Saturday Night Live in 1977. He also hosted America’s Black Forum from 1980 to 1997. In 2012, Bond was the focus of a short documentary film by Eduardo Montes-Bradley, “Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement.”