Civil rights leader C.T. Vivian dies
by Seth Johnson
Posted 7/17/20, 05:11 pm
A man who staged sit-ins in Peoria, Ill., more than a decade before the lunch-counter protests of the 1960s has died. The Rev. C.T. Vivian died of natural causes at his home in Atlanta on Friday. He was 95. His sons Mark and Albert and daughters Kira, Anita, Denise, and Jo Anna survive him.
What is his legacy? Since the 1940s, Vivian had helped lead the civil rights movement and was a member of the Freedom Riders. He was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest advisers and walked with him in the Selma, Ala., protests. Vivian championed nonviolent action, saying in 2011, “In no way would we allow nonviolence to be destroyed by violence.” He also served as a Baptist minister, dean of divinity at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., and founder of the National Anti-Klan Network. President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. “Do what you can do and do it well,” Vivian said after receiving the award. “But always ask your question: Is it serving people?”
Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read a review of the PBS documentary about King’s March on Washington.
Editor’s note: WORLD has corrected this report to note that Vivian received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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Seth is a correspondent for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a journalism student at Bob Jones University. Seth resides in Indianapolis, Ind.