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Julian Bond's mother was a professional librarian, and his father was the first black president of Lincoln University before becoming the dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University. Bond was attending Atlanta's Morehouse College when the student sit-in movement began in February 1960. He and a group of friends formed the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights and held their first sit-in a month later. Bond later became SNCC's communications director, and a voter registration organizer.
Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but that body voted not to seat him because of his activism against the war in Vietnam. Bond would be reelected twice more before the Supreme Court ruled that Georgia violated his rights in denying him the seat.
In 1971 Bond became the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 1974 he won a seat in the Georgia Senate. He lost the 1986 Democratic primary for a Georgia Congressional seat to fellow civil rights activist John Lewis. In 1998 Bond was elected chair of the NAACP.