Home WORLD NEWS C.T. Vivian, Civil Rights Leader, Is Dead at 95

C.T. Vivian, Civil Rights Leader, Is Dead at 95

by biasharadigest

In Selma and Birmingham, Ala.; St. Augustine, Fla.; Jackson, Miss.; and other segregated cities, Mr. Vivian led sit-ins at lunch counters, boycotts against businesses and marches that continued for weeks or months, raising tensions that often led to mass arrests and harsh repressions.

Televised scenes of marchers attacked by police officers and firefighters with cattle prods, snarling dogs, fire hoses and nightsticks shocked the national conscience, legitimized the civil rights movement and led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Nonviolence is the only honorable way of dealing with social change, because if we are wrong, nobody gets hurt but us,” Mr. Vivian said in an address to civil rights workers, as told in “At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68,” a 2006 book by Taylor Branch. “And if we are right, more people will participate in determining their own destinies than ever before.”

Like his followers, Mr. Vivian was arrested often, jailed and beaten. In 1961, at the end of a violence-plagued, interracial Freedom Ride to Jackson, Mr. Vivian was dispatched to the Hinds County Prison Farm, where he was brutally beaten by guards.

In 1964, Mr. Vivian was nearly killed in St. Augustine, America’s oldest city and one of its most rigidly segregated, where he had joined Dr. King in an extended campaign of peaceful protest. On an Atlantic beach, “roving gangs of whites whipped black bathers with chains and almost drowned C. T. Vivian,” Stephen B. Oates wrote in “Let the Trumpet Sound,” his 1982 biography of Dr. King.

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