FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — Julian Bond, a major figure in the 1960s civil rights movement who served as a longtime board chairman of the NAACP, died Saturday night, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was 75.

Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, after a brief illness, the SPLC said in a statement released Sunday morning.

“I don’t know if you can possibly measure his imprint. It’s extraordinary. It stretches his entire career and life in so many ways,” said Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney in Birmingham who helped Bond bring students to Alabama to visit civil rights sites.

“That was, I think, his real calling in his later years was to make sure that history stayed alive so that people could understand the connection between 50 years ago and today.”

“You can use the term giant, champion, trail blazer – there’s just not enough adjectives in the English language to describe the life and career of Julian bond.

The Nashville, Tennessee, native was considered a symbol and icon of the 1960s civil rights movement. As a Morehouse College student, Bond helped found 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.

Bond later served as board chairman of the 500,000-member NAACP for 10 years but declined to run again for another one-year term in 2010.

The SPLC said Bond was a “visionary” and “tireless champion” for civil and human rights.

“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.”

Bond also served in the Georgia state legislature and was a professor at American University and the University of Virginia.

“Very few throughout human history have embodied the ideals of honor, dignity, courage and friendship like Dr. Julian Bond,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “Quite simply, this nation and this world are far better because of his life and commitment to justice and equality for all people. Future generations will look back on the life and legacy of Julian Bond and see a warrior of good who helped conquer hate in the name of love. I will greatly miss my friend and my hero, Dr. Julian Bond.”

Bond 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.

“A voice that has been silenced now is one that I just don’t think you can replace,” Jones said.