Julian Bond at the 2011 NAACP Convention with chairwoman Myrlie Evers-Williams, widowReuters

U.S. civil rights leader and former head of the NAACP Julian Bond, who also held elected office in Georgia for two decades, died on Saturday aged 75.

Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced in a statement. Bond was the civil rights organization's first president.

"Julian was a visionary and tireless champion for civil and human rights," SPLC said of its former president who held the post from 1971 to 1979.

From 1998 to 2010 Bond was chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


Bond was the son ofHorace Mann Bond, president ofLincoln University in Chester County, one of the earliest institutions of higher education for black students.

Horace Bond was the first African American presidentof the university. Hebefriendedeccentric art collector Dr. Albert Barnes, and in his will, Barnes left the entirety of his collection, known as the Barnes Foundation, to Lincoln University.

Julian Bond opposedbreaking Barnes' will tomovethe Barnes Foundation from its original site inMerion to a location on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.

"Lincoln fell prey to a fading city’s desire for an additional tourist attraction," he wrote in a letter to the New York Review of Books.

As a young man,Bond helped co-found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was its communications director for five years in the early 1960s, canvassing the U.S. South to organize civil rights and voter registration drives and lead anti-segregation protests.

In 1965 he was one of several African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after the new Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act opened voter registration to blacks. Bond served four terms in Georgia's House and six terms in its Senate.

After losing a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives, Bond taught at several colleges and universities and became a published author.

In later years he was a regular commentator for "The Today Show,"hosted NBC's late night comedy show, "Saturday Night Live," and advocated for LGBT rights.

Bond was divorced and had five children, SPLC said. It did not give a cause of death.

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