Civil rights icon Rev. C.T. Vivian dies at 95

Rev. Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian, who was an adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, has died at 95.

Posted: Jul 19, 2020 6:11 AM
Updated: Jul 19, 2020 6:11 AM

Civil rights leader Rev. Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian has died at age 95, his daughter Kira Vivian told CNN.

Vivian passed away at his Atlanta home of natural causes Friday.

"He was the sweetest man," Kira Vivian said. "He was so loving. What a loving dad. He was the best father throughout my entire life."

Vivian participated in the Freedom Rides and worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The minister participated in his first nonviolent protest, a lunch counter sit-in in Peoria, Illinois, in 1947, according to the National Visionary Leadership Project.

Vivian had a strong religious upbringing and said he felt called to a life in ministry, according to NVLP. With the help of his church, he enrolled in American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville in 1955.

That same year, he and other ministers founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, NVLP said. The group helped organize the city's first sit-ins and civil rights march.

By 1965, Vivian had become the director of national affiliates for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference when he led a group of people to register to vote in Selma, Alabama. As Sheriff Jim Clark blocked the group, Vivian said in a fiery tone, "We will register to vote because as citizens of the United States we have the right to do it." Clark responded by beating Vivian until blood dripped off his chin in front of rolling cameras. The images helped galvanize wider support for change.

Vivian also created a college readiness program with the goal of helping "take care of the kids that were kicked out of school simply because they protested racism."

Years later, the US Department of Education used his Vision program as a guide to create Upward Bound, which was designed to improve high school and college graduation rates for students in underserved communities.

In the late 1970s, Vivian founded the National Anti-Klan Network, an anti-racism organization that focused on monitoring the Ku Klux Klan. Soon after it was founded, the name and direction changed because "it was bigger than the Klan," said Vivian.

"We called it the Center for Democratic Renewal because the whole culture had to be renewed if it truly was going to be a democratic one." Vivian said they viewed the Center For Democratic Renewal as "the political side" of what they were doing with the SCLC, which was focused on the country's morality struggles during the civil rights movement.

President Barack Obama awarded Vivian the highest civilian honor in the nation, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2013.

About her father, Kira Vivian said, "he was just a kind person and cared about people."

Vivian was born in Boonville, Missouri, on July 30, 1924. He and his late wife, Octavia Geans Vivian, had six children.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
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Jones14086247
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Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
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Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
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Choctaw136527
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Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
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Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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