ATLANTA — People gathered in Atlanta Wednesday to pay tribute to Reverend C.T. Vivian. The Civil Rights icon died Friday at the age of 95.
He was known by many as “The Quiet Warrior,” a friend and confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a central figure of the civil rights movement.
“If it were not for his work many of us would not be here,” Georgia Rep. Vernon Jones said.
Vivian laid in repose at the Georgia State Capitol followed by a procession through Atlanta, where he spent his lifetime working to make a difference.
Before a prayer service, Gov. Brian Kemp called the Civil Rights legend an incredible man who stood on the frontlines in the fight for equality.
“Dr. Vivian’s story and impact is nothing short of inspiring,” he said.
Channel 2′s Tom Jones was there as a horse drawn carriage carried Vivian’s body to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference officer, where he once served as national director.
The procession continued to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Vivian was one of Dr. King’s top lieutenants during the civil rights movement.
He was beaten and bloodied several times as he marched and protested injustice.
Timothy Jefferson told Jones he met Vivian a few times. He said Vivian urged him to follow a righteous path.
“And he always told me a man got to stand up for what is right. As long as you’re always on the right side, you’re doing the right thing,” Jefferson said.
Jones also spoke with people who said they just had to be there to pay their respects.
“Dr. Vivian has done so much for so many people across this country. He has paved the way for the freedoms we did not have before,” Miranda McKenzie said.
Vivian’s legacy lives on through the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute. The program has scholars and mentors who teach life skills to teens like Justice Tankson.
“Just being a part of his program I had to represent him,” Tankson said.
Vivian’s funeral will be held Thursday, but it will be private because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Channel 2 Action News will carry the funeral service live.
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