C. T. Vivian: Civil Rights Leader And True Man Of God
We lost another black American hero on Friday, July 17, 2020. Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian died of natural causes at 95 in his Atlanta home. Vivian served God and helped lead black America through many Freedom Rides.
C.T. Vivian grew up with his mother and grandmother in Macomb, Illinois with strong beliefs in Christianity. They moved him to this area because there were non-segregated schools and a local college. They wanted him to grow up with an education to continue the family’s progress from slavery. Vivian became an active leader in high school and later attended Western Illinois University to further his education.
He left school to work at the Carver Community Center in Peoria.
By 1947, Vivian joined his first non-violent protest to help end segregation in Peoria. Because of his religious background, Vivian said that he was called to be a minister. He enrolled in American Baptist Theological Seminary in 1955 with the help of his church. Consequently, that same year he along with other ministers founded Nashville Christian Leadership Conference.
They organized sit-ins and the city’s first civil rights march. He joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1961 which led to him working closely with Martin Luther King Jr. on the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He helped to get the Civil Rights Bill and Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed. Vivian was one of the leaders on the front line in the peaceful protest in Selma, Alabama.
Though the protest ended in a brutal confrontation with the police that led to Vivian being beaten, this event progressed the process of voter registration rights for blacks in America.
As the years passed, Vivian held many leadership roles and also helped kids that were kicked out of schools due to racism. He created a vision called Upward Bound that was designed to improve high school and college graduation rates in minority communities.
Vivian’s outpour for his community was seen as a destiny much bigger than just racism. He was determined to fight for equality and freedom while instilling hope into the lives of others.
C.T. Vivian will be remembered as a kind-hearted person who cared for the lives of others. He received the highest civilian honor in the nation, the Presidential Medal of freedom in 2013 from President Barack Obama.
For his courage, prayers, and strong fight in the community we will continue to celebrate his life as we celebrate all that he has done for us. Thank you Cordy Tinsdell “C.T.” Vivian for loving us the way God intended.