She helped desegregate DeKalb County public schools and was one of that county's first black deputy voter registrars. Mrs. Vivian oversaw the collection and organization of papers that chronicled the history of the SCLC and the civil rights movement. She worked in public relations at Morris Brown College.
In 1970, she wrote "Coretta," a biography of Coretta Scott King, that is now published in several languages. When Mrs. King died in 2006, the author, with the help of relatives, revised and published a commemorative edition of the civil rights matriarch. Parkinson's had set in and she was unable to type, so from memory, she dictated information used for additional chapters.
Mrs. Vivian held Mrs. King in high regards and they shared a special bond as wives of two of the most public faces of the civil rights movement.
"They were close, they were good friends," Denise Vivian Morse, a daughter from Fayetteville, recently told SCLC Magazine. "My mother simply loved Coretta; she respected her. She understood what Coretta had to go through -- the loneliness, struggling to do everything on your own, being poor most of the time and worrying about your husband's safety."
Without question, Rev. Vivian says he married a soul mate, someone "as close to perfect as any human being I have ever known."
"Had it not been for our wives, we couldn't have done the things we did," he said. "I remember coming home after being away two weeks. I was asleep and when I woke up all the kids were sitting around the bed, just looking at me, wondering who was this guy who comes to our house every now and then. Our wives had the same passion for the things we were doing."
Additional survivors include daughters, Kira E. Vivian of Atlanta; Anita Charisse Thornton of Jacksonville, Fla.; a stepdaughter, Jo Anna Walker of Peoria, Ill.; sons, Mark Evans Vivian of Decatur and Albert Louis Vivian of Fayetteville; 14 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren.