“It’s about life, and who you are as a human being. Today is a sad day in that we lost two of the most powerful activists we’ve ever had – C.T. Vivian and John Lewis. The impact they had on America is unbelievable…” ~Chris Paul
On July 17, 2020, two icons of the Civil Rights Era gained their wings. C. T. Vivian and John Lewis both dedicated their lives to the fight for racial, social and economic justice. Influenced by the non-violent teachings of James Lawson, Vivian and Lewis practiced this belief through their involvement with the student sit-in movement and the Freedom Rides. They carried this passion for non-violent direct protest for the remainder of their lives by creating organizations that promoted racial equality, participating in the political process, and being an inspiration for others. Both men will be greatly missed.
Cordy Tindell “C. T.” Vivian (1924-2020)
“Leadership is found in the action to defeat that which would defeat you… You are made by the struggles you choose.” ~ C. T. Vivian
C. T. Vivian was born on July 30, 1924, in Boonville, Missouri. He was a minister, author and advisor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Vivian studied ministry at the American Baptist Theological Seminary and also established the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference to support the student sit-in movement. Vivian participated in the Freedom Rides in the early 1960s, where he stood up to Sheriff James G. Clark in Selma, Alabama. He is also known for the creation of several Civil Rights organizations that include Vision (which became Upward Bound), Black Action Strategies and Information Center, and the C. T. Vivian Leadership Institute. In 2013, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. C. T. Vivian passed away at the age of 95 in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 17, 2020.
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John Robert Lewis (1940-2020)
“Get in Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble, and Help Redeem the Soul of America.” ~John Lewis
John Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama. He was a civil rights activist, Congressman, and author. Lewis graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary and received a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Fisk University. While living in Nashville, Tennessee, he became a leader in the student sit-in movement. In 1960, he was a co-founder and later the 3rd Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Lewis participated in the Freedom Rides, the 1963 March on Washington, and the Selma to Montgomery Marches. During the late 1960s through the 1980s, Lewis devoted his time to various community organizing and voter registration efforts, in order to secure the legal Civil Rights victories of the 1960s. In 1987, Lewis was elected to the House of Representatives from Georgia, where he was also known as the “Conscience of Congress”. In 2011, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. John Lewis passed away at the age of 80 in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 17, 2020.
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