By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Civil rights icon Julian Bond grew up in the greater Philadelphia area — and went on to break barriers in his fight for equality. The longtime board chairman of the NAACP died Saturday in Florida after a brief illness. He was 75. His death has drawn reaction from local civil rights activists.READ MORE: North Philadelphia Rat Infestation 'Subsiding And Leaving Slowly' After City Officials Lay Down Poison In Empty Lot
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Julian Bond grew up in Oxford, Pennsylvania and attended the George School in Bucks County. His father — Horace Mann Bond — was the first Black President of Lincoln University.
“I was shocked. We were just with him at the national convention,” says Minister Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the NAACP. He spoke with Bond and took pictures with him last month during the NAACP’s national convention in Philadelphia. He says Bond was a true icon, whose leadership will be missed.
“The legacy of his long time commitment to the struggle, shows us that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” he says.
Julian Bond was an activist and politician. As a college student at Morehouse, Bond helped to start the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s where he served as their public relations representative. Then in 1968, he became the first African-American to be nominated as a major party candidate for Vice President. He also served two decades in the Georgia legislature.READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Climate Prediction Center Predicts Above-Average Temperatures This Winter
“His death is a major loss to the civil rights community, but also to the human rights community,” says Jerry Mondesire, a longtime Philadelphia civil rights activist who served on the NAACP board of directors for six years. He says Bond convinced a reluctant NAACP to take up the for fight for same sex marriage.
“It was a close vote the first time it was taken, you know, behind closed doors; but he believed in it significantly and pushed for it right up until the end,” says Mondesire.
He says the NAACP benefited from preaching voices like Dr. Martin Luther King and the Reverend Leon Sullivan — but Julian Bond offered a different kind of leadership; one of quiet wit and reason.
“We appreciated Julian Bond’s insightful wit. We’re going to miss the way he could sum up the equation and make things plain,” says Mondesire.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Police Investigating After Threats Of Violence Emailed To Jewish Community Center
Bond was a journalist and academic. He taught at Penn, Drexel, Harvard and other universities. He was also one of the founders of the Southern Poverty Law Center.