Rev. C.T. Vivian, of Atlanta, a leader in the civil rights movement and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, will receive the presidential Medal of Freedom this year.
Vivian worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the SCLC and was arrested during the 1961 Freedom Rides. He also participated in sit-ins and other demonstrations around the country.
“I am very thankful to the source,” Vivian said. “I think everyone who receives this is surprised. We in the Civil Rights movement have received four of these that we know of, so it shows how important the work was.”
Vivian follows Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and Congressman John Lewis – all Atlantans – who have recently gotten the honor.
In naming Vivian as one of 16 medal recipients this year, the White House recognized his work in founding several civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal.
Among the other honorees who will receive medals later this year are former President Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.