“Now you can turn your back and hold your club in your hand, but you can’t beat the justice. And we will register to vote because as citizens of this United States we have the right to do it, ”Vivian declared, waving his index finger at Sheriff Jim Clark. while the cameras were rolling. The sheriff then hit him, and coverage of the attack helped turn a local registration drive into a national phenomenon.
Former diplomat and congressman Andrew Young, another of the King’s confidants, said Vivian was always “one of the people with the most insight, wisdom, integrity, and devotion.”
President Barack Obama honored Vivian with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 he said that “Reverend Vivian was one of the first to act again and again: in 1947, at a sit-in to integrate a restaurant in Illinois; one of the first Freedom Riders; in Selma, on the steps of the courthouse to register blacks to vote, for which he was beaten, bloodied and imprisoned. ‘
Obama continued, “Rosa Parks said of him,” Even after things were supposedly settled and we had our rights, he was still there and inspired the next generation, including me, “to help children go to college with a program that would be Upward Bound. “He praised Vivian, then 89, for being” still in action and bringing us closer to our fundamentals. “
The King Center in Atlanta tweeted a tribute, “Rev. CT Vivian. Brave. Brilliant. Sacrifice. A powerful, well-lived life that has lifted humanity. We will miss you. “Al Sharpton, head of the National Action Network, tweeted that Vivian” made this nation and the world a better place. “
“RIP, my friend,” Sharpton’s message ended.
When Vivian spoke to students in Tennessee 50 years after signing the voting rights law, she urged them to act strategically advocated for justice and equality. The civil rights movement was effective not only because of its nonviolence, but also because activists made sure their messages were strengthened, he said.
“This is the movement: our voice was really heard. But it didn’t happen by accident; we made sure it was heard, “said Vivian.
Cordy Tindell Vivian was born on July 28, 1924 in Howard County, Missouri, but moved to Macomb, Illinois with his mother as a young boy. Later, he studied theology with future civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee, where they trained wave activists in nonviolent protest.
King made Vivian his national affiliate director at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and sent him south to register voters, an attempt Vivian brought to Selma in 1965. Standing in the Dallas County Courthouse, as a line of black people lined up along the block behind him, he pleaded for their right to vote until Clark’s blow knocked him flat.
Vivian stood up again and continued to speak before being detained and imprisoned, and his mistreatment helped draw thousands of protesters whose determination to march from Selma to Montgomery pressured Congress to pass the voting rights law later that year take.
Vivian remained in the SCLC after the assassination of King in 1968 and became interim president in 2012, bringing renewed credibility and a tangible link to the civil rights era after the organization stagnated for years amid financial mismanagement and conflict.
“It should always be clear what Martin had in mind for this organization,” Vivian said in an interview in 2012. “Nonviolent, direct action makes us successful. We learned how to solve social problems without violence. We cannot allow the nation or the world to ever forget that. ‘
Vivian died at home in Atlanta on Friday morning from natural causes, his friend and business partner Don Rivers confirmed to The Associated Press.
Vivian had a stroke about two months ago, but seemed to be recovering, Rivers said. Then “he just stopped eating,” he said.
Rivers, 67, said he was 21 when he met Vivian at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. At the time, he worked as an audio director when Vivian was the dean of the university’s divine school. The two remained close over the years, and Rivers said he handled the business side of Vivian’s work.
“He’s such a nice, gentle, brave man,” Rivers said, adding that the minister was not in it for the money. “He gave, gave, always gave.”