Bond served as founding president of the law center in the 1970s.
His wife, Pamela Sue Horowitz, reportedly said the cause of his death had been complications from vascular disease.
“With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,” the SPLC 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.”
The Tennessee native had been at the forefront of the 1960s civil rights movement, and, as a student of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Morehouse College, helped lead one of the first student sit-ins in Atlanta. He also helped lead the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at Morehouse, a civil rights group focused on political activism.
Bond grew to become a a writer, poet, television commentator, lecturer and educator, thereafter. In addition, he served for 20 years in the Georgia General Assembly, before losing a race to run for a seat in the United Sates House, after also serving six terms in the State Senate. He had also been a prominent voice in protests against apartheid during the mid-1980s in South Africa.
“Julian Bond was a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “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.”
Bond also moved on to teach at Harvard, Drexel, Williams, and the University of Pennsylvania. He had also been one of American University in Washington’s distinguished scholars in residence, and a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where he co-directed an oral history project called Explorations in Black Leadership.
In 1998, Bond also became chairman of the N.A.A.C.P. , and, later in life, a champion for gay rights.
“The nation and the NAACP deeply grieve Julian Bond’s death even as we are profoundly grateful for his life,” NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said in a statement. “The arc of service of Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond’s life extends high and wide over America’s social justice landscape: as a young lieutenant of Martin Luther King Jr., gifted writer, eloquent speaker, esteemed professor, Georgia state senator, nominee for U.S. Vice President, revered civil rights leader, champion for marriage equality, and well beloved NAACP Chairman Emeritus.”
Bond is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, and five children.