U.S. civil rights activist Julian Bond has died.He was 75.
Bond died Saturday night in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, after a brief unspecified illness.
President Barack Obama released a statement Sunday, saying, "Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.
"Julian Bond was a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend. ... Michelle and I have benefited from his example, his counsel, and his friendship – and we offer our prayers and sympathies to his wife, Pamela, and his children," Obama said.
Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said upon Bond's death that "the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice."
Bond was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
He was a founding member of the iconic Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960 and served as its communications director for five years.
Bond led student protests against segregation in America's volatile South during the country's civil rights era in the 1960s.
A graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bond was elected to the state of Georgia's House of Representative in 1965. However, white members of the House refused to swear in Bond because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.
FILE - Julian Bond, a then-Georgia state legislator, withdrew his name from consideration as a vice presidential candidate after it was entered in nomination at the Democratic National Convention, in Chicago, Illinois, Aug. 29, 1968.
The Supreme Court heard Bond's case and ruled that Georgia's legislative body had denied him his freedom of speech and had to seat him.
The Nashville, Tennessee, native served in Georgia's House until 1975 and then served six terms in Georgia's Senate from 1975 to 1986.
In 1968, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Bond was the first African-American nominated as vice president of the United States.
However, he had to withdraw his name because he was too young to serve.
In 1986, Bond ran to represent Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives, but lost to John Lewis, another civil rights champion.
Bond was chairman of the legendary National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1998 until 2010.