Skip to navigation

Baccalaureate 2013

The Reverend C. T. Vivian is a living legend of the Civil Rights Movement and he continues his activism today, tirelessly working for the progress of African Americans and the civil and political rights of all peoples. An uplifting speaker, he has addressed audiences in 42 states, 10 countries, and on countless campuses nationwide on the issues of civil rights, non-violence, racism and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with whom he worked for many years.

A Baptist minister, his first use of non-violent direct action was in 1947, to end Peoria's segregated lunch counters. Later he founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, organizing the first sit-ins there in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. Rev. Vivian was a rider on the first "Freedom Bus" into Jackson, Mississippi, and went on to work along-side Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his Executive Staff in Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, Nashville. the March on Washington; Danville, Virginia; and St. Augustine, Florida. During the summer following the Selma Movement, Rev. Vivian conceived and directed an educational program, Vision, and put 702 Alabama students in college with scholarships. The program later became Upward Bound.

Rev. Vivian has been featured as an activist and an analyst in the civil rights documentary, "Eyes on the Prize," and has been featured in a PBS special, "The Healing Ministry of Dr. C. T. Vivian." He has made numerous appearances on "Oprah" as well as the "Montel Williams Show" and "Donahue." Rev. Vivian is the focus of the biography, Challenge and Change by Lydia Walker and he is author of Black Power and the American Myth, which was an Ebony Book Club Selection.

His leadership positions have included: Chairman of the Southern Organizing Committee Education Fund, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) the Black Action Strategies and Information Center (BASIC), and the Center for Democratic Renewal.

An eloquent and inspiring speaker, Rev. Vivian continues to speak out for racial justice and democracy.