Reverend Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian, a prominent civil rights icon, has passed away at age 95.
Per CNN on Friday, the minister — a close friend and lieutenant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement — passed away at his home in Atlanta from natural causes.
“He was the sweetest man,” daughter Kira Vivian told the news channel. “He was so loving. What a loving dad. He was the best father throughout my entire life.”
Another of Vivian’s daughters, Denise Morse, told The New York Times that her father had been in hospice care.
Born in Boonville, Missouri, Vivian studied ministry at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee, in the late ’50s.
According to the National Visionary Leadership Project, Vivian attended his first nonviolent protest, a lunch counter sit-in in Peoria, Illinois, in 1947.
In the ’60s, he participated in the Freedom Rides, where he and fellow activists rode buses into the South to protest segregation.
He was also a member of Dr. King’s inner circle of advisers, alongside Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Wyatt Tee Walker, Ralph Abernathy, and other luminaries.
Despite clashes with authorities, Vivian was an ardent advocate of nonviolence.
“Nonviolence is the only honorable way of dealing with social change, because if we are wrong, nobody gets hurt but us,” Vivian said in a speech to civil rights workers, as recounted in 2006’s “At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68.” “And if we are right, more people will participate in determining their own destinies than ever before.”
In 2013, President Barack Obama named Vivian as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the nation.
In 1952, Vivian married author Octavia Geans, who sadly passed away in 2011.
In addition to his daughters Kira and Denise, Vivian is survived by his and Octavia’s other children: Mark, Anita, and Albert. Their son Cordy Jr. died in 2010.
Denise told The New York Times that he has another daughter, Jo Anna Walker.
Our condolences go out to the Vivian family for their loss.