Mourning the Loss Civil Rights Icon C.T. Vivian

America has suffered tremendous loss in the past few weeks with the passing of civil rights activists John Lewis and Cordy Tindell (C.T.) Vivian. Both died July 17, 2020, leaving behind legacies that will continue to shape our futures for many years to come. Readers can find a tribute to the late John Lewis at our Lawrence Executive Alliance of Professionals (LEAP), LLC, website here:, but this week, we’ll focus on the incredible achievements of the late C.T. Vivian whose words and actions will, no doubt, continue to resonate with the youth who are served by LEAP Foundation DC.

When we think of Mr. Vivian, several key words come to mind, words that continue to provide hope for a better tomorrow. Equality, peace, persistence, fearlessness, and, perhaps most importantly, selflessness. Yet this is a man who, on his quest to create a more tolerant, inclusive life for others, suffered greatly for doing so. But on he marched.

Mr. Vivian worked alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a field general and close adviser during the Civil Rights Movement, but his commitment to abolishing segregation began years before the two met when he fought to desegregate Peoria’s Barton’s Cafeteria. As a Baptist minister, he was well-known for his advocacy for non-violent protesting, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t suffer the physical repercussions of confronting racial injustice in the 1960s and for decades to follow as an active participant on front lines of protests. He was arrested often, jailed and physically assaulted at the hands of law enforcement.

In 2013, Mr. Vivian was honored as a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, the nation’s highest civilian honor, which is given those who have made “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

From sit-ins and Freedom Rides, to authoring the first book on the Civil Rights Movement and being described by King as “the greatest preacher to ever live,” Mr. Vivian is truly a legend the world will profoundly miss.