Julian Bond, former chairman of the NAACP, in 2014
Rodolfo Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images

Julian Bond, the longtime NAACP leader and civil rights champion, died late Saturday following a brief illness, according to the Associated Press. He was 75.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which released a statement announcing the death Sunday morning, called Bond unrelenting in his advocacy for civil rights, the report says.

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The native of Nashville, Tenn., served as board chairman of the NAACP for 10 years, declining to run again in 2010. As a young student at Morehouse College, Bond served as a founder of "the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and as its communications director, he was on the front lines of protests that led to the nation’s landmark civil rights laws," writes AP.

“With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,” SPLC co-founder Morris Dees 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.”

AP reports that he is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, a former SPLC staff attorney; his five children: Phyllis Jane Bond-McMillan, Horace Mann Bond II, Michael Julian Bond, Jeffrey Alvin Bond and Julia Louise Bond; his brother, James Bond; and his sister, Jane Bond Moore.

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In a measure of Bond's impact, the White House released a statement from President Barack Obama, who called him a hero and a friend.

“Julian Bond was a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend,” the statement reads. “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. 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.

“Julian Bond helped change this country for the better,'” the president’s statement continues. “And what better way to be remembered than that.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton also weighed in on the loss, according to a statement from his Harlem-based National Action Network civil rights group.

“National Action Network (NAN) mourns the loss of civil rights leader and former NAACP board chairman Julian Bond, a trailblazer for equality and inclusion,” the statement reads. “As one who came out of the immediate generation after him, I grew up admiring and studying the work of Julian Bond and the country has lost a champion for human rights. The work of Mr. Bond will be missed but not forgotten as we march forward for civil rights.”

The NAACP, other civil rights groups, politicians and fans took to social media to mourn the loss:

https://twitter.com/repjohnlewis/status/632936799774576640https://twitter.com/NAACP_LDF/status/632929576570724352https://twitter.com/WendellPierce/status/632942105074098181https://twitter.com/algore/status/632933897626632192https://twitter.com/imfromraleigh/status/632947053916725248https://twitter.com/sonsandbros/status/632942554665738241https://twitter.com/NAACP/status/632856846139830272

Read more at the Washington Post.