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C. T. Vivian

July 30, 1924 – July 17, 2020

Cordy Tindell Vivian was an American minister, author, and close friend and lieutenant of Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout his life, he was a tireless advocate for non-violent actions to irradicate racism in the southern United States. In later life, Vivian continued to speak publicly and offer workshops, and did so at many conferences around the country and the world, including with the United Nations.

On August 8, 2013, President Barack Obama named Vivian as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The citation in the press release reads as follows:

C. T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and friend to Martin Luther King, Jr., he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal. In 2012, he returned to serve as interim President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Vivian died from natural causes in Atlanta on the same day that his friend and fellow activist, John Lewis, died.

“Leadership is found in the action to defeat that which would defeat you… You are made by the struggles you choose.” - C. T. Vivian

Submitted by our members in 2020.